CommScrum: Time to Say Good Night to “Employee Engagement”?

This week, I join my three collaborators from CommScrum in a robust discussion about the viability of “employee engagement”.

The discussion starts like this:

To be sure, the intentions behind the “employee engagement” movement of recent years were more-or-less honorable, to create working environments where employee participation was appreciated, and to ensure organizations used language that didn’t discourage such participation out of hand.

But as time went on, a prevailing definition for “employee engagement” came to indicate “the discretionary effort contributed by employees,” (as if there was such a thing as “non-discretionary effort” in organizations that benefit neither from slavery nor sleepwalking). Moreover, many in the internal communication industry leapt in as offering “employee engagement solutions” that could help generate extra-special-discretionary effort well beyond that warranted by what their clients were willing to reciprocate with.

The discussion continues in full at:

CommScrum: Dethroning the Cult of the Manager?

The persistent primacy of the line manager as a primary communication channel in organizations–despite credible research claiming employees prefer electronic and print communication in a majority of cases–is the subject of the latest rendition of CommScrum.

CommScrum can be found, as always at

Praise from Internal Comms Legend Roger D’Aprix

My recent writing on internal communication and engagement has drawn the attention of Roger D’Aprix, one of the most durable and beloved figures in the industry, and author of seven books on the subject–including the “The Credible Company: Communicating with Today’s Skeptical Workforce.”

Said Roger:  “Mike, I like the fact that you go against the grain of this profession and are willing to say so.  Reminds me of my younger self.  Keep it up.”

For more about Roger, please check out his LinkedIn profile at

Eight Myths about Internal Communication

Having worked in internal communication in a variety of organizations since 1997, I’ve seen and heard a lot of myths and aphorisms about “good communication” which, alas, are either untrue or deeply overstated.

Here are eight of the real doozies—I’m sure there are others; if you know of any, pile into the comments:

  1. Social Media is new
  2. Treat employees like customers
  3. Good communication is free
  4. Employees can’t say no
  5. Use the disembodied second person
  6. Good internal communication is all about recognition
  7. It’s all about the bosses
  8. Line Management Cascades are the best form of communication

For the full story–and the explosion of each of these myths, you can visit my posting at

Towards a Social Communication Model

The idea of a communication model that unifies internal communication, external communication and knowledge management forms the premise of my new post on Communitelligence: “Towards A Social Communication Model”.

While the emergence of social media is important to this premise, the core of the model is that it recognizes the legitimacy and importance of peer opinion and influence as a driver of behavior and performance within organizations.

The article can be found at

Enterprise Re-Engagement: Will Corporates Get It?

My latest posting on Communitelligence and the Employee Engagement Network raises the issue of why corporations, while needing to engage their full range of social, political and environmental stakeholders, could be well served to place employees at the heart of their broader engagement strategies.

Such an approach is not without risks.  Expecting employees to fight corporate battles in the public and political sphere is seen by some as a breach of labor-management etiquette, and also will require a new framework of trust to be generated between employee and employer following the shocks of the last few years.

However, employees and employers may be faced with little choice.  Both are more vulnerable to market shocks and competitive pressures—leaving relationships and reputation as the thin shield that affords them any protection whatsoever.  Whether corporations can join together their collective thinking about stakeholder engagement—or whether the current thinking of employee engagement as a sort of free lunch for employers ends up prevailing—is likely to have a decisive impact in the next few years.

The full posting is available at Communitelligence at:

Will Social Media Drive Integrated Internal-External Comms?

In the first-ever “Thought Leaders” post on the site of CIPR Inside–the internal communications community within the UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations–I discuss some of the key attributes of social media likely to drive greater integration of internal and external communication in the coming year.

Key drivers I’ve identified include:

* timing–satisfying the desire for instant and efficient communications, and allowing key messages to be distributed with appropriate dispatch

* mapping–helping to identify meaningful internal communities and communities within the market, and within them, the people who influence others

* relevance–allowing employees greater flexibility in subscribing to communications that they wish to receive

* targeting–building on community mapping to provide alternative local sources of news and credibility to relieve pressure on line managers, who while a favored communication channel, are often overburdened and unreliable

The full post can be found at CIPR Inside:

CommScrum Rugby-Tackles “Internal Communication”

Challenging the very viability of what’s currently known as “internal communication” was the focus of my recent posting to  CommScrum—a cooperative blog dedicated to “Full Contact Internal Comms.”

The Commscrummers: UK-based Dan Gray and Kevin Keohane, Netherlands-based Lindsay Uittenbogaard, and me, took a whack at the inward-facing focus of internal comms to date. We questioned its viability in the face of the ongoing convergence of communication disciplines and, equally, the emerging importance of employees as an externally-facing communication channel.

Commscrum publishes at least twice monthly—and can be found (with the usual robust set of comments, replies and retorts) at:

H&M Clothes-Shredding Scandal Kicks off New Role on Communitelligence Communications Leadership Team

Calling the recent scandal involving Swedish clothier H&M’s (now-abandoned) practice of shredding wearable clothing a “colllision at the intersection of internal, external and social communication,” I’ve posted my first pieces as the newest member of the Communications Leadership team at Communitelligence–the US-based electronic publishing collective.

The first, found at, introduces the H&M controversy and its implications. The follow-up addresses H&M’s response to the situation–and the remaining lessons still to be learned by communication practitioners:

Joining the Communications Leadership team lines me up with a number of globally known communication leaders, including Carol Goman, Thomas Lee, Liz Guthridge, Sharon Wamble-Lee and Communitelligence founder John Gerstner.

Communitelligence has a global network of members across a wide variety of communication specialties, including internal communication, employee engagement, crisis planning, intranet management, public relations, marketing and branding, and corporate citizenship/CSR.  It can be found at

Questioning Employee Engagement–Some Things to Think About

Building on my “four forms of employee engagement” model, I’ve published another piece that again challenges the conventional wisdom about employee engagement, while providing some practical questions for practitioners to consider before considering engagement efforts in the current climate.

This piece, ‘Questioning ‘Engagement–Things to Think About’, has been published on the Employee Engagement Network and can be found at: