Monday, December 22, 2008

Peace سلام Paz שלום Paix 平和 Мир Fred

[NOTE: That’s “peace” in English, Arabic, Spanish, Hebrew, French, Japanese, Russian and Swedish]

This week and next, I’d like to take a break from my usual blog to pause, express gratitude for the blessings of family and friends and to wish you — my readers — peace, joy and prosperity now and throughout the New Year.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Boosting Employee Morale in a Down Economy

I remember after 9/11 how significantly employee morale fell; it was understandable. Nevertheless, while I always found a great escape in my work during such periods, that obviously isn’t true for everybody.

Thus, it was not surprising — in the current economic environment — to learn that there is once again a breakdown in employee morale. A recent survey found that more than a third of employees attributed the decline in morale to a lack of open, honest communications on the part of their bosses about what was really going on in the company. Other reasons for poor morale were failure to recognize employee achievements (19%) and micromanagement (17%). Such breakdowns – with all the work to be done – are not good for any firm or for the economy at large.

Enter the Makovsky “We Achieve” program – designed to “make” bosses talk to their employees (and all of us talk to each other) and recognize those who role-model best practices. It is based around business-size cards, each with a Makovsky firm value: educate, communicate, innovate, initiate, collaborate and motivate. Anyone demonstrating one of those values through his or her behavior is given a card, noting on the back the specific action. The person with the most cards wins a cash prize bi-monthly.

Thus, it was interesting to note that 48 percent of executives cited communications as the solution to strong employee morale, and both recognition and monetary rewards were runners-up in the battle to beat bad morale.

Technorati Tags: employee morale, poor morale, best practices, micromanagement, innovate, 9/11, Makovsky, business, communications, public relations

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Monday, December 08, 2008

“Green” Pressure

Investors are now starting to “go green,” which will likely impact corporate action.

With that in mind, it is important to note that Makovsky + Company’s “Green Gap Survey” of the Fortune 1000, with Harris Interactive, demonstrated that while nearly 80% of corporate leaders were personally concerned about climate change and the threat it posed to future generations, only 57% of companies were taking action to address CO2 emissions standards.

However, once major institutional funds start diverting their “greens” to corporations that indeed are acting to change the environment, might that lagging percentage go up?

A recent New York Times story by Elisabeth Rosenthal on November 28 noted that “investing with the idea of improving the environmental actions of corporations, not just maximizing profit, is catching on among some big pension funds and foundations particularly in Europe and even in the U.S.” These huge funds are redirecting investment to either those companies who don’t damage the environment or have programs that limit their emissions that contribute to global warming. Some funds are also divesting themselves of stakes in companies that are environmentally lax.

Some of the funds involved are the Norwegian Government Pension Fund–Global, ABP (the huge Dutch government pension fund), the pension fund of the British Environmental Agency and the California State Teachers’ Retirement Fund, among others.

Money talks – and the “green gap” will close … albeit gradually. Other expected pressures ? Federal regulations and consumer demands.

Technorati Tags: go green,climate change, pension funds,Elisabeth Rosenthal, social media communications, environment, New York Times, Harris Interactive, Makovsky + Company, Investors, communications, public relations

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Monday, December 01, 2008

IBM, Trust and the Great Global Conversation

At least once a month our firm invites a thought leader to present and discuss a topic of particular interest to our PR professionals and others on our staff. Last month’s guest speaker was Adam Christensen, IBM’s social media communications manager. Adam provided us with an excellent overview of how IBM is integrating all aspects of Web 2.0/social media — including social networking, blogging and podcasting — into its communications efforts.

For me, the two most significant takeaways were 1) the staggering numbers of IBM employees worldwide who are involved in blogging and other forms of social media and 2) the freedom and respect for their independence that they receive from their employer.

IBM realized, Adam said, that the general public’s perception of the IBM brand will be significantly shaped by their interaction with its 380,000 employees, and the opinions they spread among their families and friends. Further, the perception of the IBM brand among its employees also will be shaped by collaboration with each other.

Thus, in 2003, at a time of great change for the company, IBM was exploring what its brand stood for. Employees were invited to post their responses on a message board. Many of the earliest responses were negative in tone. IBM could have shut down the message board, but it had faith in its people — and that faith was not misplaced. Sure enough, once people had had a chance to express their doubts and fears, they began to express their feelings about the strengths of the brand, the company and its people, products and services.

Today, with IBM’s 380,000 employees now in 170 countries, IBM has 60,000 registered bloggers. About 15,000 are individuals who post with some regularity. Their involvement in the social media is an important expression of IBM’s culture of collaboration … one of the technology leader’s special strengths.

Even IBM’s corporate blogging policy was developed collaboratively by its bloggers. There is no IBM staff person dedicated to monitoring blogs.

IBM’s collaboration platforms also extend to clients, partners and competitors, as well as key opinion leaders. According to Adam anyone on the outside can have contact with anyone on the inside.

I’ve often said that “trust is where it’s at.” IBM employees’ leadership in the social media is a testament to the central importance of trust in the corporate culture at IBM.

Technorati Tags: Adam Christensen, IBM, social media communications, blogging, IBM brand, corporate blogging policy, social networking, business, communications, public relations