Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Innovation Inspired By Looking Inward

Over the last 15 months, studying corporate communication and change management as a graduate student at Northwestern, I've become increasingly interested in employee engagement and internal communication.

It’s not a concept that invokes the “surprise factor”. The more a company invests in their employees by proving their value to the organization, the higher the likelihood those employees will be both engaged and driven when it comes to formulating and executing business objectives, mission and values. Google seems to get it. Zappos’ employee culture is famous. And per the latest blog post by Ann Simon from Gagen MacDonald’s blog, “Let Go and Lead” (http://www.letgoandlead.com/2011/10/creative-disruption/) IBM seems to have been drinking the Kool Aid as well. The research and results are out there, but why haven’t more organizations followed suit?

Like IBM’s JAM sessions Simon talks about in her blog, Google also prides itself on its people and the high-value concept of employee engagement. “Googlers”, as they’re called, participate in both surveys and various feedback channels throughout the year that encourage honest employee response and idea sharing, supporting their thinking that “more minds on an important issue are better than one”. Through their “TGIF” company-wide forum, to smaller “fixit” sessions focused on problem solving around business challenges, Google challenges the traditional top-down approach to leadership and instead, encourages the idea of bottom-up… Which I think is the direction businesses should consider adopting.

As a marketing student in Northwestern’s Medill IMC program with graduation around the corner, this type of bottom-up thinking and heightened emphasis on company culture speaks to me as I embark on my job search. Employees today want share of voice within an organization. They desire an active role in driving business success and they want to feel that not only are they representative of their company, but that their company is representative of them.

So, where does your company track in this popular trend?

Alison Fyfe
IMC Graduate Student

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