March / April 2020 Edition “Our Bloomington, MN Backyard this morning” Some Things Do Remain Normal Believe it or not, some things are happening as

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March / April 2020 Edition

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“Our Bloomington, MN Backyard this morning”

Some Things Do Remain Normal

Believe it or not, some things are happening as they should despite all of us being in quarantine and other life disruptions. We live on a lovely small pond and I can report that several species of wood ducks have returned, our Blue Herron has returned, the Robins are busy building their nests under our decks, and a couple Mallard families have also returned.

Last year we had three different families live in our Wood Duck house and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of this year’s new tenants. Over the winter our local coyote population walked by the house a couple times a day, but we have not seen any red foxes for some time. We have one eagle and several hundred White Egrets on our expected guest list, but they have yet to show up.

Aside from that, like so many of you, we are in lockdown here in Minnesota until at least April 30th, but time will tell.

As are more and more of, we have also been touched by the virus outbreak. One of my part time assistants has a younger sister who has tested positive for the disease. They are all in lockdown for the foreseeable future. I learned over the weekend that one of my editors has lost a close relative to the disease. This situation is terribly real. Despite the inconvenience of quarantine and all of us learning to work from home, our work does continue.

This Newsletter

This newsletter focuses on the next part of my ongoing discussion of employee communications, the main document being “Mastering the Politics of Employee Communication.” Also in this newsletter, you will find a couple of interesting “People are Talking” notes, recently received.

Attention Educators: As you probably have noticed, my new book, The Decency Code: The Leader’s Path to Building Integrity and Trust, is out. The publisher is providing book copies to educators interested in using the book for course material. For the academics among you, there is an application to request a review copy from the publisher, at the end of this newsletter.

As always, I’m interested in your questions, comments, concerns, and suggestions. I am available via email at jel@e911.com or by phone or text at 203-948-7029.

Welcome to the next installment of our employee communications discussion started in the February issue.

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What Does “The Politics of Employee Communications” Mean?

New Research: The FLS is a Major Player in Corporate Culture

The most powerful point in the February newsletter was the new research based confirmation of the importance, power, and impact first line supervisors have on corporate culture. In this issue, I want to discuss what I have found to be a useful approach to employee communications. Communications surrounding any issue, as a matter of fact. This approach already includes the cultural impact of first line supervisors.

The Ridgeway Audience Analysis Method

For many years our company did large corporate demonstrations, usually related to some issue in the community or in a political context… people were angry about something. One of my great mentors for many years was Paul Ridgeway Sr., a specialist in large special events. He loved working in communities. For many years he and his company handled the parking arrangements in the community where the Super Bowls were held. At the very beginning of my serious activity in this field I had the chance to use Paul and a number of his consultants on a huge project in North Carolina. Paul was the chief strategist and chief motivator of everyone. That’s another story which I’ll talk about sometime.

In the process of educating me on how he was going to conduct the nuts and bolts of this community-based corporate campaign, he opened my eyes to the world of employee communication politics. He looked at it differently than just about anyone I’ve ever worked with, then and since. Paul had been an advance person for President Carter and other prominent politicians.

It is Politics

You’ll see the schematic of his audience analysis process later on in this newsletter, Paul’s approach allowed me to bring client management into the process of how we get messages in and out of an organization, understand the role of those who are with us because they have their own agendas, and feel much more on top of this squishy business called “employee communication”, especially during turbulent times. More importantly, anywhere we worked, first line supervisors were happy to see us because we understood their role in the cultural impact of large events. Paul’s approach helped us alert management to what happens to an organization when management leaves the first line supervisor out of the loop. When there is agitation, irritation, and confrontation going on, the bosses, in frustration and fear, step in and cut others out of the communication loop.

The Goal was a New Normal and Peace

Even though a company’s actions and employee and community reactions can be big disruptions, this strategy works well during troubled times, even more effectively when there actually is peace in the valley. Paul’s efforts taught me that the goal was enabling employees to seek and support peace in the valley. This thinking and its subtleties helps employees and every audience involved have a much better understanding of where they fit, what the limits of their participation are, and how they can best help the organization achieve its objectives in ways that are helpful to the communities involved. If you’re interested, give me a call, and I’ll tell you more stories about some of the events Paul carried out while we worked together.

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Mastering The Politics Of Employee Communications

James E. Lukaszewski

First published in 2000

The Crucial Ingredient in Building Cultural Consent

For an organization to succeed, each day, at least 51 percent of those who matter have to be pulling in the same direction. That requires leadership from the top, every day, to show the way and to help forecast and overcome the new barriers that arise and the old barriers that persist. This is a tall order in most organizations. When there are strong forces at work, such as an upset community or workforce, the task can seem overwhelming. Organizational politics must be harnessed in sensible, constructive, and positive ways to make success and peace achievable.

Managers and Leaders Overrate Their Communication Skills

Some leaders are good communicators, some are non-communicators. Some leaders are good delegators, some are autocrats. Some leaders are bureaucrats, some are activists, some are charismatic, and of course, some are incompetent. All believe they are great communicators. The reality is that organizations will have to be successful in the context of their current leaders and leadership. Leadership in contentious situations is different, but clearly learnable.

Whenever I am speaking to a group of our colleagues, I’ll ask how many work for someone who they believe is a bad communicator. That always gets a big laugh. If there are more than 100 in attendance, at least one hand always goes up. That also gets a big laugh. Try it sometime.

Building and maintaining consent is only achieved when there is effective and positive management of internal communications. Most external communication fails or is ineffective until internal communication is working well. This is Politics 101. Communication succeeds when there is a base in place to recognize and support important messages and a clear return channel and connection through the first line supervisor for feedback. In the army, the analogy would be the work of a sergeant, in the navy, a chief petty officer. These individuals are specifically charged with making sure the messages from the top reach the intended receivers wherever they are, and to report back.

The lesson of successful internal communication for every leader is that success is more likely when simple, sensible, constructive and positive efforts are undertaken to build and maintain a base within the most important audience most leaders have, their employees, retirees and others whose lives are directly affected by their organizational relationship.

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I’m sure you won’t remember me but I sat next to you at the dinner you are speaking at in Worthington Minnesota 35 years ago, or so. I was a teenager, no sense of direction, and you talked about public relations. Following that conversation, I went on to graduate from college with a degree in public relations and it has been a wonderful and interesting life.

Thanks to you,
-Out of the Blue on LinkedIn

I wouldn’t expect you to recall, but we crossed paths on a couple occasions. Once when I was an instructor at DINFOS (Defense Information School) at a Marine Corps NY media symposium, you graciously gave me phone time to bounce some non-traditional ideas off you about DoD’s (Department of Defense) response to the DC sniper. You were a tremendous help and gave me confidence I wasn’t a nut despite thinking in ways distinctly different than many of my peers (and seniors). Now that I think of it, you also created a boatload of work for me in Okinawa when I shared “Influencing...” with the 3-Star and he said, “Great! Do THAT!” Since then I’ve cited “Influencing...” in numerous articles, including one that made it through peer review for publication by “Public Relations Review.” I’m retired from service now and learning the hard way how to build my own coaching and consulting practice. No ask from me here. Bottom line is, you personally made a significant positive difference in my professional development and the “work anniversary” notice from LI gave me an opportunity to say thank you.

Warmest Regards and Highest Esteem
A Retired Marine Officer

Editor’s note: the writer is referring to my very first book, Influencing Public Attitudes: Strategies that Reduce the Media’s Power, 44 pages, paperback, published in 1992, by Issue Action Publications of Leesburg, VA. Still available on eBay.

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Upcoming Events

April 1, 2020: PRSA Monthly Chapter Ethics Officers Briefing: The Ethical and Unethical Management of Crisis – www.prsa.org

July 16, 2020, noon ET: IABC Circle Podcast #59: Entrepreneurship and How To Be A Successful Consultant: Improving Results and Value as a Business Advisor - Listen Here

September 15th, 2020: Institute of Internal Auditors Webinar: Cracking the Decency Code: The Leader’s Path to Integrity and Trust- View Webinar

October 15th, 2020: IABC Circle Podcast #62: Communication and Workplace Safety: Looking at All Aspects for Employees – Listen Here

December 8th, 2020, noon ET: Institute of Internal Auditors Webinar: Risk Proofing Your Organization and Probably Your Career 2.0 - View Webinar

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Book Title: The Decency Code: The Leader’s Path to Building Integrity and Trust

ISBN: 978-1260455397

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