Melcrum Summit 2013 – The Art & Science of Performance

The Melcrum Summit is a key date in a lot of Internal Communication professionals diaries. A great conference that sees companies such as Novartis, HP and Nationwide take to the stage and discuss their internal communication challenges and what they have done to over come them and succeed.

Here are my notes from a few of the key sessions, which were incredibly useful and insightful…

Keynote Session – Data and Democracy: Visualizing the IC dashboard of the future by Will McInnes (@willmcinnes) MD of Nixon McInnes

Will McInnes kicked off the conference with an energetic talk. Author of Culture Shock, he was introduced as not specialising in communications but focuses on how to do business in the new world and how to work with employees to make them successful in their own right.

Discussing the power of data and democracy and how it relates to employee performance he highlighted how we want to accelerate the speed of conversations in our business to match the speed with which it is happening outside. For example in the external world the passengers are first to tell train operators when there is a problem.

Companies need an intranet, online platform, to kick-start those conversations and help with the speed employees can set up project teams, vote new ideas and comment on ways to improve the business and contribute to company’s direction.

But why do these conversations matter? “It’s simple as this. When people don’t unload their opinions and feel like they have been listened to, they won’t really get onboard” Lencioni

So where are we now? With mobile and cloud being highly relevant to how we all operate on a day to day basis it means people are getting information from anywhere and interactions with the company you work for are are further distributed. Companies need to embrace this and look at how they can use this to empower employees further in their roles.

There are still a lot who fear giving employees the opportunity to share and worry if it will waste time. However with McKinsey highlighting how 28% of a workers week is spent managing email we shouldn’t be worried that “Facebook” activity will be a problem. Need to support internal conversations between employees and not inhibit them.

Will highlighted how Internal Communications need to embrace the digital world to allow people to make fast decisions, and empower people to make smart decisions. Need real time metrics on employee engagement not just a one off annual survey and employees need to quickly see data about what decisions have been made in the business and feel they can contribute.

This first keynote ended with asking the audicence to think what should be included in their data dashboard of the future? A really smart dashboard might include:

  • Measurements on health and well being of workforce
  • Celebrating negativity – like biggest criticism of the day. The company that can tolerate the truth will come out on top
  • Real-time measure of engagement and happiness
  • Focused sections on particular business goals or themes
  • Customer real time feedback just like Trip Advisor

Case Study: How we learned to love measurement at Schneider Electric – a global IC function’s journey towards credibility and accountability by Kim Beddard-Fontaine, Senior Vice President, Internal Marketing & Communications, Schneider Electric (@KimBedFontaine)

This case study focused on how Schneider Electric wanted to tell a consistent story and deliver one communication experience to all employees. From the start they had a clear mandate and aligned themselves as business partners of the company.

Focusing closely on the measurement part ,Kim discussed how they started building the data:

  1. Annual online feedback survey – measure satisfaction and understanding messages
  2. Secret Shoppers – 500+ quarter to gain insight
  3. Quick online polls – real-time measurement to ensure understanding

A key area of their communications strategy is video and the first thing Kim does every day is look at their real-time video dashboard and this allows her to see how many people are watching videos, which ones, where they are watching and how long; giving great insight into user behaviour so they can keep improving.

They also built an IMC Composite indicator based on their intranet site and other key areas to show global share of voice with the company . Allowed them to show that their audience is increasing and able to share these stats with the board. Based on the following equation:


Kim discussed how they hold quarterly reviews and scorecards to ensure all global communications are aligned. All the data is collected to show ROI and improvements.

Key thing is that this gives them a lot of data and insight to share and demonstrate impact of internal communications on the business. Achieving results such as;

  • The New Model is working with 96% now heard of the company program compared to 82% previous year
  • Audience increasing – video plays increased by 200% and more people watching videos
  • Annual survey 60% said they have seen improvement in Internal Communications

These figures are also helping to drive behavioural change.

Now they have aligned communication goals to company strategy and translated insight into KPIs

Kim ended her talk discussing if measurement hampers creativity. The answer to this being ‘no’. Insight allows you to be more creative and helps shape your activity to ensure you are making a positive impact on the business.

Few simple tips:

  1. Stop spraying and praying – start measuring
  2. Use what you have – don’t blame your tools!
  3. Get the data and insight
  4. Use it to take the emotion out of it and professionalise our function
  5. Use it to influence and take internal comms to the next stage

Case Study: Internal communication’s role in moving the workforce from understanding to action at Novartis by Jason Browning, Head of Global Internal Communications, Novartis International AG

Jason started by sharing his experiences of moving employees from understanding to action, ensuring they:

  1. Contribute to the Novartis mission
  2. Contribute to the reputation of Novartis

This meant their Global Internal Communications had to focus on five interdependent strategies:

  1. Managing great internal communication channels and content
  2. Communicating change effectively
  3. Partnering with HR to improve employee engagement
  4. Curation of internal company story & leadership communication
  5. Building a world class function

To carry out this task it was important that they followed a clear model, which Jason stated covered four key areas Inputs > Outputs > Outcomes > Impact

Inputs – what resources invested such as ideas, time and costs

Outputs – tasks completed, activities

Outcomes – what behaviours changed with awareness and action taken

Impact – business results achieved with revenues and P&L etc

Jason discussed how as part of their strategy for employee engagement they launched a campaign to show a CEO presentation in various town halls and on their intranet through video and in just 3 weeks they had 30% global participation, which was great for such a large and diverse company.

They also launched an online image sharing campaign on their intranet, which achieved 64% participation and continues to grow. All played a vital part in activating and embedding storytelling as part of their culture.

The talk finished by saying they are continually trying to measure engagement and build employee advocacy going forward.

Case Study: New business, new conversation – rebuilding employee communication at HP by Stacey MacNeil, Vice President Employee Communications

A brilliant talk and possibly the highlight of the day, Stacey began by saying HP has 320,000 employees in 170 countries around the world.

Although HP is a leading company with great products they faced a challenging time a few years back with a number of different CEOs, bad publicity in the media, a workforce who were asked to do more with a lot less, a number of strategy changes and all this created a lot of uncertainty in the business.

The main problem however came from the fact no one was talking to employees because they were too busy talking to everyone else to try and convince the world the company wasn’t falling apart.

Stacey was then hired to build employee communications and engagement. It was a challenging role with her having a new boss, a new team and being in the middle of a crisis. But what really added to the pressure was that she was given a week to come up with a plan and tactics on how she was going to turn everything around.

It involved a week of getting stuck in, hard work and lots of wine!

The challenges that needed addressing:

  1. Provide one central place where employees would hear what was going on first
  2. Provide context and perspective about major negative issues in the media and internally
  3. Significantly improve employee morale and engagement, understanding of HP strategy and their critical role in the company turnaround.

Stacey and her team had to do three quick things:

  1. Create a new model – visibly break from the past, with open, transparent and authentic content
  2. Quick wins – needed to move fast, start the conversation with employees
  3. Global requirements – whatever they came up with needed to be sustainable and scalable

She discussed how they first went to their intranet to see how it was performing and realised it was updated monthly at best and quite boring. It also focused entirely on what the company wanted to say and not what employees wanted to hear. Very much a corporate news channel.

First thing was to change the mindset of how the team and company saw and created employee communications which involved:

  • communication is a product
  • market and sell product
  • target your audience
  • break through the clutter – with 20 million emails a week internally needed to do something different
  • be proactive and fast

Within the first 4 months they ran 5 different campaigns, including:

1) Designed a contest to ask employees to send in a 10 second video on ‘I believe HP has a great future…’

The winner would be in a video with CEO of HP. The whole campaign was pulled together in under 4 days. It felt like a great risk because weren’t sure if employees thought HP had a great future. This was the first time they had video on their intranet portal & the first time gave employees a voice and platform to speak. Also employees could comment so they could see the live feedback. Within the day they had 100s of videos from around the world. This campaign highlighted that they still had employees who were engaged and wanted to be involved in the future, which was a great boost to everyone.

2) Had to provide content and perspective to the very bad news that they were about to have a 13% fall in share price

Big internal communications effort before the news was realised with a micro site to explain the fall in share price with videos and articles so that employees were informed and understood ‘the why’. It had a massive impact and minimised the negativity that employees felt so they didn’t react badly and as a result were able to keep ahold of good talent.

Stacey discussed some of the key tools they used to continually improve the communications and engagement programme to employees, such as:

  • Internal videos of people behind the product
  • Events – HP experience from the inside
  • Ambassadors – promoting HP as a great place to work
  • Video: tutorials on anything and everything
  • Infographics on key stats that employees wnated to know
  • Teachable moments – looking at things that are going wrong and how we can improve

Employee ambassadors were seen as internal reporters and given a key role in ensuring internal teams were kept informed and motivated regarding the future of HP.

It was good to hear their intranet played a key part in their internal communications strategy and how they ensured it was a place where news met social collaboration.

With all the new activity they had to do a massive restructure of the team involved in managing their intranet:

HP Team Structure

In under 4 months they managed to achieve:

  • over 1.85 million visits
  • over 1.53 million return visits
  • Almost 3M page views

Other interesting stats included employees spending on average over 5 minutes and 45 seconds on the site, conducting 2.5 actions per visit and with 75% returning two days or less.

With all the activity engagement went up considerably and has continued to improve year on year.

Key learnings:

  1. Be comfortable being uncomfortable
  2. Sometime you just have to go forward
  3. C level buy in is essential
  4. Trust your gut and instinct
  5. Sometimes you need to break a little glass
  6. Never under estimate the need for change
  7. If you build it they won’t necessarily come – you have to market and sell it
  8. It may not be perfect but it will be great

A great end to the first day with lots of useful advice and key takeaways for Internal Communication professionals. Good to hear the intranet is a strong part of everyone’s strategy as well in ensuring employees are communicated with and empowered to perform better in their roles.