Two measured views

We have two more views on the measurement summit we organised at the end of July. (We posted a piece from Gloria Lombardi last week)

Rachel Miller who needs little introduction is one of our committee members and has shared her short summary of the day with us below.

And as an added bonus we have a post from Billy Hamilton, Employee Communication Manager at Essex County Council (winners of best employee engagement programme at last year’s #insidestory awards – check out the case study here).

Thank you Rachel and Billy for putting your thoughts to posts – great to read and share your views. You can see the slides of the event here.

Over to Rachel first:

There were around 45 IC pros gathered at CIPR HQ in London and we looked at many aspects including how does measurement drive strategy, how do you measure internal social media and its impact on communication strategy plus how do you measure engagement and evaluate just how effective internal communication is?

I liked the fact there were speakers I’d not heard before, fresh case studies are always good! This was the second measurement summit CIPR Inside has put on and it was well worth attending (disclosure: I was invited to attend and didn’t pay for a ticket – I always highlight when this is the case).

Last year’s summit resulted in the excellent measurement matrix under then-chair Kevin Ruck @academykev. If you’ve not seen the measurement matrix before, do take a look as it’s a resource that has been created to steer IC pros towards measurement success. It’s a good introduction if this is a new topic for you.

Measurement in practice
The focus of today was measurement in practice with case studies and practical experience and was chaired by current CIPR Inside chair James Harkness.

Speakers included Kevin talking about the research he’s been doing for his PhD. I’d love to write a lot on this, so will have a chat with him to work out the best way of doing that and the timing, rather than mention it in detail here now.

Aspects he spoke about included correlation analysis and the strength of understanding aspects of communication alongside aspects of employee engagement. I know lots of my readers have completed or are going through the PR Academy ICcourses, of which Kevin is a co-founder of the academy, and it was good to hear first hand some of the work he has been doing.

Jimmy Huang from Warwick Business School looked at analysing internal social media and links to internal communication strategy. He explained the findings from his research at three telecommunication companies. I really enjoyed Jimmy’s presentation and his explanations of rhetoric (the art of influence and persuasion) and implications for IC strategy.

He also talked about reach vs richness, univocality vs multivocality (this was in relation to employee voice – check out this social media and employee voice report from CIPD and previous article by me for more an intro to this area), plus consumption vs co-production.

Dr Jimmy Huang from Warwick Biz School is talking about rhetorical practice as a crucial aspect of IC #icsummit13 pic.twitter.com/tvDuED58pR

— Rachel Miller (@AllthingsICJuly 23, 2013

 

Next up was Guy Bailey from the Home Office who showed us the dashboard he has developed to measure engagement levels and evaluate the effectiveness of internal communication channels. I was left feeling like I wanted to hear more from Guy and to get more detail about what they have been doing.

What struck me about his approach was the level of detail and the direct correlation between internal and external factors on engagement levels. I hadn’t seen such a comprehensive and detailed analysis shared in that way and it was good to hear Guy’s enthusiasm for crunching the numbers and how this directly related to ‘proving the worth of IC’ and underpinning everything the Home Office is trying to achieve.

I’ve written and Tweeted many times about the importance of linking comms activity to business strategy, and Guy’s presentation reflected that importance and added some pretty chunky numbers into the equation too.

Looks like a very detailed dashboard… #icsummit13pic.twitter.com/ZiVEr0cXKN

— Steven Murgatroyd (@steve_murg) July 23, 2013

 

Key takeaways for me from Guy’s presentation were the importance of aligning your strategic intents with your IC strategy and “you can be innovative in your IC strategy, but do approach it as a long-term investment.”

Simon Elliott from BP was up next and he guided us through a rigorous way of measuring employee engagement plus short-term ways to track employee engagement.

BP built their own survey tool, called Survey Wizard to enable them to centralise allsurveys as they found lots of employees were constantly wanting to survey their workforce and this enabled them to have a helicopter view of what was happening. Smart stuff.

I’ve worked in places where a frequent topic up for debate is ‘let’s add that as a question to the employee survey’ and I’ve seen people displaying signs of survey fatigue as employees are pumped for information constantly with every survey deemed as business critical. In my experience, this often results in low response rates on the annual employee survey as employees are all surveyed out.

Simon explained how every question that is asked has to provide a perspective and measure. He said: “Communication effectiveness and employee experience affects understanding, confidence, trust and action.”

He said that the focus for BP is “to understand how engaged employees are ‘in important matters’ (defined as what’s important to BP at certain points in time), what’s the big question you’re trying to answer with measurement and to what extent does this build and sustain performance?”

The final speaker was Ghassan Karian of Karian and Box, who was concentrating on using measurement to support business performance. In a whirlwind presentation, Ghassan looked at using research “to determine the critical factors which drive engagement and how you make the link between engagement metrics and business performance.”

 

And now over to Billy Hamilton:

 

I have a confession to make: I’m a hopeless measurement nerd. There’s not much I enjoy more than being able to produce communications – from the most complex strategies to the fluffiest puff pieces – and know exactly (and I mean exactly) how to measure their impact. And, hey, even when that communication is a wretched failure, at least I know where I can do better next time. (Would love to see a ‘fluffy puff’ piece – what a phrase! – Rachel)

So, for me, evaluation is one of the most important aspects of communicating to people in the workplace. Unless you are able to assess how effectively your communication lands, resonates and gestates with employees, then it’s impossible to declare your campaign/strategy/whatever a success (or failure).

That’s why I was so keen to attend CIPR Inside’s latest measurement summit.  Not only was “Surveys, Sentiment and Strategy – Measurement in Practice” a unique  chance to gain insight into how other organisations measure the effectiveness of their communications, it also provided me with an opportunity to benchmark these practices against what we do in Essex County Council.

I must admit, my jaw was wedged to the floor at the level of analysis conducted by the Home Office, a fellow public sector organisation. Their dashboard was as comprehensive an evaluation of communications reach and sentiment as I’ve seen.  Getting that beauty to work, while dealing with the day-to-day dramas of operating in public sector, is a remarkable achievement for their internal communications team.

Having an impact

Consistently, the speakers made it clear senior leaders are having a big impact on evaluation becoming a cornerstone of internal communications. In fact, proving a return on investment against business objectives was the driving force behind many of the tools and techniques. Which makes sense, really; in these days of austerity it is imperative our function can prove its worth.

Of all the speakers, Ghassan Karian from Karian and Box chimed loudest with my own thoughts on using measurement to shape forward thinking. At times, his “so what?” philosophy and adoption of a cyclical approach to evaluation – where results are used to define and redefine strategy – felt as effortless as playground truisms. They were obvious and achingly simple, but very effective.

Much of what I heard on the day made sense within my current workplace. At a critical time of organisational transformation, my team needs to prove its worth to senior leaders. But it’s not that simple. We can demonstrate our ability to deliver outputs (ie how many emails we’ve sent), yet we have limited proof points around how we’re contributing to strategic goals and ambitions – despite the numerous awards we’ve won.

After this event, maybe, just maybe, we can do something about it.

 

Thanks to both Rachel and Billy.

We always love to hear from our members and the wider internal communication profession. If you have something to share, we love to host guest posts. So just drop us a mail at ciprinside@gmail.com and we’ll go from there.

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