Improving Executive and Employee Engagement Using Town Halls


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Connecting executives and employees through town halls creates engaged workers and and improves company culture.

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  • A major challenge that we all see and most likely have personally experienced ourselves in the workplace is the lack of dialogue and transparency between employees and executives. Many companies across the globe struggle with this problem, where traditional, complex hierarchical structures or top-down only communication makes it extremely difficult for employees to connect with their executives or leadership.
  • But typically, it’s the frontline employees that are working closely with the company’s products, dealing directly with customers, and handling everyday transactions. They are the one that have valuable insights, feedback, and great ideas that may never transpire because it was never vocalized.
    If we look at the opposite angle, executives have a major responsibility of leading the company in the right direction. Leadership may have a strategic vision or new company policy that they want to implement, but it never gains traction due to lack of alignment or understanding from everyone else in the business.
    These challenges can impede an entire organization from meeting a business goal, hinder innovation and development, or lose a competitive advantage.
  •  There are many benefits of an enterprise social solution:
    -ESNs allow geographically disperse organizations to transcend organizational silos and break down hierarchical barriers by allowing their employees to mobilize quicker to connect and collaborate as a team.
    -ESNs create a culture of openness and honesty, and keeps people accountable. Relationships are created and strengthened as people gain more trust in each other. As executives become more transparent and engaged in conversation, everyone benefits as information flows between the levels within the organization.
    -And finally, ESNs give the everyday worker a voice or opportunity to be heard. This could lead to some remarkable ideas and translate into personal investment into the company.
  • This talk is critical today because of the current reality of how corporations function within a dynamic and global context
    The distributed model of corporations around the world
    For these reasons talking about connectedness, collaboration and communication is really critical in the context of corporate success

    Cite some data

    Badi talk time & feedback: 7 mins (a little long, a bit deep)
    Demo: 2 mins

  • At Socialcast we believe that when you have an organization with an executive team, the essence of their job is to lead their company to higher levels of performance. And what is really critical to effective leadership are connections
  • The idea of Town Halls is based on a redefined, more progressive idea of leadership where leadership is practiced horizontally rather than vertically. Let me explain— traditional communication channels involved the leadership disseminating information to workers from the top through complicated channels based on division of labor.

    In our redefined perspective, we see the leader as communicating side-by-side with workers in dynamic, real-time spaces where communication takes the form of a productive discussion geared towards learning and finding solutions rather than a static one-way transfer of information. These understandings come from research we conducted with numerous leadership teams from around the world.
  • Town Hall enables leaders and employees to create a dynamic forum for discussion on a given topic. Invited participants then engage in discussions on topics as mundane as an HR issue to specific and exciting dilemmas related to company innovation. Town Hall enables both private and public conversations, again, moving away from this idea of communication as a mere one way transfer of static information to one of active knowledge sharing and producing as it relates to the functioning of the corporation. The new knowledge that is created through these conversations is then accessible to other people for future reference, for learning and for further engagement.
  • The barrier to effective communication that existed with more traditional forms of communication are also removed as people gather together in this virtual space. For example the limitations of time and space are immediately lifted. This is especially significant in the global context where time and space have been tremendous obstacles. Leaders are able to communicate with local and global workers in the same space—a Town Hall—enabling diverse perspectives to be captured in the solution of one problem. As we all know, there’s plenty of research that supports the idea that diverse perspectives, skills and ideas as assets to finding effective solutions.
  • Improving Executive and Employee Engagement Using Town Halls

    1. 1. © 2014 VMware Inc. All rights reserved. Connecting Executives and Employees Through Town Halls April 22, 2014
    2. 2. Today we will cover: 1 Introduction to the Business Problem 2 Socialcast Solution: Town Hall Overview 3 Customer Highlight: Humana’s Case Studies and Tips 4 Q&A 2 #SCTownHall
    3. 3. 3 Speakers Jeff Ross, Humana Community Manager @jeffkross Jeff Ross is a community manager for Humana’s Enterprise Social Media Team and has served as the community manager for Humana’s enterprise social network (Buzz) since its launch in May 2010. He is the founder and host of the weekly Twitter chat #ESNchat for those interested in enterprise social networks. He is an active blogger at and elsewhere on various professional and personal topics. Badi Azad, Socialcast Sr. Product Manager @badiazad Badi Azad is senior product manager at VMware and is responsible for the core Socialcast product. Prior to Socialcast, Badi was an integral part of presentation software startup, SlideRocket, which was acquired by VMware in 2011. He is a technology intellectual and holds an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management from the University of San Francisco.
    4. 4. 4 Business Problem Traditional organizational hierarchies and cultures with top- down management philosophies make it difficult for employees to connect with executives or leadership.
    5. 5. Frontline employees have valuable insights, feedback, and ideas from working with the product and customers. 5 Executives require employee involvement and company- wide alignment to meet strategic goals. Benefits of Working Together
    6. 6. The ESN Solution Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) drive business value by: 6 •  Transcending organizational silos and hierarchical barriers by allowing employees to quickly mobilize, connect and collaborate. •  Creating a culture of openness and honesty -- building and strengthening relationships through trust and transparency. •  Providing front-line employees with a voice and a platform to share feedback.
    7. 7. Socialcast Town Halls Product History and Overview Click below to see this webinar live
    8. 8. The Reality of Business Today 8
    9. 9. Strong corporate leadership is about creating a collaborative culture 9
    10. 10. 10 Leadership and Communication Redefined
    11. 11. 11 Changing from one-way transfer of static information, to one of active knowledge sharing. Notions of Communication are Challenged
    12. 12. Town Halls 12 •  Moderated •  Scheduled •  Archived Connecting Executives and Employees
    13. 13. Town Hall Demo
    14. 14. Customer Spotlight:
    15. 15. + 15
    16. 16. Case Studies
    17. 17. Town Halls for Executive Communications TOPIC CEO Quarterly Leader Meetings OBJECTIVE Align executives and employees in a shared vision STRATEGY •  CEO hosts a Quarterly Leadership Meeting for the organization’s 2,000+ leaders •  Town Hall held in conjunction to capture presentation materials and engage audience members in conversation •  CEO answers questions directly in the Town Hall and the discussion continues even after it ends RESULTS Quarterly Leadership Town Halls are accessible to more than 50,000 people, helping get everyone on the same page and moving in the same direction 17
    18. 18. Town Halls for Managing Change TOPIC Humana Pharmacy Solutions Executive Presentation OBJECTIVE Communicate new strategic directions to employees around the country in an efficient, inclusive way STRATEGY •  Exec presented plans for a new business model in a large convention center •  Town Hall was used simultaneously and reached 300+ participants around the country •  Powerful graphics, probing questions, and interactive elements used to enhance Town Hall RESULTS The HPS Town Hall was viewed by 523 people. Humana was able to roll out a new pharmacy initiative in a transparent and engaging way 18
    19. 19. Town Halls for Open Dialogue TOPIC Open Office Hours with a Vice President OBJECTIVE Be available for associates to stop by and discuss whatever is on their minds. STRATEGY •  Schedule and announce periodic Town Halls where VP John Brown is available for questions •  Discussion topics are entirely up to associates – no planned presentation •  Use only the Socialcast Town Hall – no conference call, webcast or in-person gathering RESULTS Extremely popular Town Halls that give any associate an opportunity to discuss whatever they wish with the VP. Great example of inspiring leadership and open, transparent communication. 19 John Brown Humana Service Vice President “I want people to know that not everyone in a position of authority is heartless or disconnected from the real world. I want people to know and see that I cry like everyone else, bleed when I'm cut and have a compassion for them that is real. I want what is best for every associate and our members. If I can make that happen, for even a few, I will have been a success.” - John Brown
    20. 20. Town Halls for Capturing Feedback TOPIC Employee Focus Groups OBJECTIVE Capture website requirements and feedback on proposed changes. STRATEGY •  Re-design the company website •  Used a series of Town Halls to present screenshots of proposed changes, where associates posted questions, concerns, or suggestions RESULTS By involving associates early and often in the website re-design process, the Humana web team streamlined the production process and reduced development costs. With early input from end- users, better reflects what customers need and makes information easier to find. 20
    21. 21. Town Halls for Brainstorming Ideas TOPIC Power Users: Buzz Brokers OBJECTIVE Improve Humana’s internal social network. STRATEGY •  Special Town Hall meetings for Humana’s most active community users, aka “Buzz Brokers” •  Town Halls Provide Buzz Brokers a chance to provide feedback, suggestions, or ask questions. This helps the Community Manager understand what’s going well or what could be going better RESULTS Input from key stakeholders has helped improve the Buzz experience for more than 31,000 members. 21
    22. 22. Town Halls for Inspiration TOPIC Humana Gives Back Campaign OBJECTIVE Recognize the contributions made by Humana employees to local charities. STRATEGY •  Capture personal stories about Humana employees giving back to their communities •  $5,000 award to be directed to the employee’s charity of choice •  Campaign organizers introduced the contest through Town Halls, presented details on how to participate, documented Q&A and made available for future reference RESULTS A surprising number of Humana employees shared personal stories. Local charities received more than $10,000 as a result of this campaign. 22
    23. 23. Town Halls for Taking Action TOPIC Humana Hope Campaign OBJECTIVE Motivate employees to make a personal commitment to better health. STRATEGY •  Launch campaign on Facebook •  Asked employees to share personal goal for improving emotional, spiritual, financial, or physical health as New Year’s resolution •  Town Hall engaged employees which increased employee participation in Facebook campaign RESULTS Humana’s commitment to enhancing health extends to customers and employees. Town Halls provided a way for Humana to inspire employees to take concrete steps toward improved health/wellness. 23
    24. 24. Best Practices and Tips
    25. 25. 10 Tips for a Successful Town Hall 1.  Plan in Advance 2.  Prepare Moderators to Spark Conversations 3.  Work as a Team 4. Invite Participants 5.  Frontload Questions 6.  Publish Content 7.  Plan Interaction Details Ahead 8.  Design for Engagement 9.  Add Teleconferencing 10. Follow Up 25
    26. 26. View all available Socialcast webinars at Click here to see this webinar live