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CIPR Inside conference – changing employee behavior for better business

Denise CoxDenise Cox·

The theme for this year’s CIPR Inside annual conference was changing employee behavior for better business.  Four themes that emerged for me on the day: Give employees a voice to get buy-in to change, storytelling is the strongest way to communicate change in a way that resonates with every employee, measure to get insight into success – and ensure your leaders can communicate effectively.

I sit on the CIPR Inside committee, and it was exciting to see the results of all the planning and co-ordination go live on the day. The speakers provided sound insight, with great case studies. I’ve written up just a few points made during the day. If you’re interested, here are the conference slides.

Psychology of human behavior

The keynote speaker, Benjamin Ellis, talked about the psychology of human behavior. While it is a meaty deep topic, even knowing a few basics of what makes us tick can help you craft your change management strategy.  There were many ideas and thoughts to take away from his talk, but here are my three.

  1. How your company treats employees is an essential part of successfully changing employee behavior. What is the culture at your organization? Does it need to be reviewed in order to increase engagement? Do this review before trying to get employee buy-in to the change needed.
  2. Does what you are offering matter to the employee?  Is there a shared story around the need to change that can be understood by all? Everyone needs to believe the same story.
  3. We’re crowd creatures. We see things as a group. That’s why a mass-message to all employees doesn’t work. You need to communicate per group. The group we perceive to be a part of is how we are going to react to the proposed changes. Craft your communications based on groups.

Four enablers to changing employee behavior

Cathy Brown from Engage for Success talked about the need to have engaged employees, before trying to change behavior. She identified the four areas of engagement.

  1. Visible, empowering leadership providing a strong strategic narrative about the organization, where it’s come from and where it’s going.
  2.  Engaging managers who focus their people and give them scope, treat their people as individuals and coach and empower their people.
  3.  There is employee voice throughout the organization, for reinforcing and challenging views, between functions and externally, employees are seen as central to the solution.
  4.  There is organizational integrity – the values on the wall are reflected in day-to-day behaviors. There is no ‘say – do’ gap

3 key points on measurement

Kevin Ruck of PR Academy talked about the importance of gaining insight into your success through measurement. Here are three key points I took away:

  1. Measurement should be done to justify an activity and bring out a positive result to success. Be honest and transparent – and share negatives as well!
  2. Trick to good measurement is it’s not one moment in time. Look over time to trend increased/stalled/decreased engagement, and look across the organization by groups.
  3. Measure the outcome not the output. Measurement is not about the figures. It’s what they represent – it’s measuring what’s changing.

Best quotes of the day

As part of the committee, I did a lot of roving throughout the day and overheard some great snippets about Internal Communication.

“Internal communicators need to get business savvy” (I agree, we need to prove business value to the organization.)

“Change is really now just business as usual” (Keeping this in mind will help you keep ‘agile’ and ready to go through ongoing change management.)

“Time is not a replenishable resource” (Use your time well – and respect the employee’s time too.)

“Nothing is going to get better in an organization unless IC gets better” (Check to see that internal communication as a function is working before trying to implement big changes.)

“Keeping employees informed is not enough, giving them a voice is essential” (This was a BIG theme of the day – giving employees a voice. This was a direct path to changing employee behavior.)


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