Don’t Lose Sight of your Stakeholder Management in the M&A Frenzy
Mergers or acquisitions are challenging. Having a deliberate strategy to understand and engage stakeholders will dramatically increase your chances of success. Here is a short, three-step roadmap for how to approach this.
After a seismic shift in your market or within your own organization – like a change in leadership, a merger, or a large acquisition, changes can be unsettling to your stakeholders.
Even as you interact with stakeholders on a regular basis, having a nuanced understanding of their preferences and challenges cannot be taken for granted.
However, after a merger the landscape has changed, and your circle of stakeholders has likely grown significantly – perhaps you are suddenly big enough to warrant significant interest from the broader media, or you pop up on the union’s radar.
You cannot assume that your stakeholders will look at you the same. Perhaps an important small supplier is suddenly worried that you are going to leverage your newfound purchasing power which can hurt their business or perhaps you need to interact with new regulatory bodies. All these situations can be challenging.
Also, very importantly how will your stakeholders perceive the new leadership team? Your stakeholders will have many opinions and will be watching closely to see which directions you choose to take. Understanding their expectations, reservations, hopes and fears will help you navigate and stay several steps ahead as you move forward in your new reality.
How to approach stakeholders?
You need to understand and analyze your stakeholders with intention. Before you engage with anybody, you should know what you want to learn, who is important to you and why, and inside your own organization who should be involved. Engaging stakeholders without a focus, without internal ownership, or indiscriminately is not the way to go about it. A good roadmap is crucial and knowing how to manage your stakeholders is also extremely important. Below is our three-step roadmap guide to help you frame vital messaging to your stakeholders.
Three-step roadmap to stakeholder engagement
The first step is stakeholder mapping: Who’s important to us and why? Who’s responsible for each relationship inside your organization? This sounds simple and you should keep it as simple as possible, but you might be amazed at how there can be several different answers to this – or no answer at all. Especially right after a merger.
Getting a unified overview of who ‘owns’ each stakeholder group is also valuable and can sometimes be a point of contention or confusion which can hamper stakeholder dialogue.
Ideally, you want to map out your stakeholder landscape to a point where each group is distinct and with strategic relevance to you. Big or very diverse stakeholder groups (perhaps like your customers) might sensibly be divided into subgroups.
The second step is understanding: What are the important questions to ask? How does each stakeholder group potentially impact our strategic goals (positively or negatively), and which themes will they have opinions about? How are we changing and what input can we benefit from going forward?
A stakeholder analysis is best done as qualitative research but is never randomly exploratory. It is important to structure the inquiry to make sure the analysis gets real, relevant, and valid answers. Focusing the analysis requires careful preparation and typically the involvement of a broad range of internal stakeholders.
The third step is engaging: Conducting the actual interviews takes practice and skill to establish trust and mutual respect, and to maximize learning. You should aim to do at least 2-3 interviews with each stakeholder group, and ideally more if the groups are very diverse. You can never achieve a completely representative analysis, but try to cover as many bases as possible, and try to avoid a selection bias by avoiding stakeholders known to be very critical – those are probably the most important ones to include.
Orchestrating the entire process is an opportunity to send a positive signal: You’re listening and you care. That is a great look on most organizations, but it is important not to waste people’s time. Reaching out also creates expectations. Address these expectations by following up with them after you have decided on what to do going forward. Share some of your insights. Let them know you appreciate their input, their candor – and use the opportunity to further develop and mature your relationship.
A stakeholder analysis is just a stepping stone and a tool that can help you navigate. You should decide on a detailed plan for your stakeholder communication to ensure that you showcase your responsiveness and that the organization addresses any critical issues or concerns. The plan should set goals for each stakeholder group and should align with your overall communication strategy in terms of audiences, messaging, and specific activities.
Our final word of advice: While it is important to have a roadmap and a structured approach, the key to engaging with your stakeholders is to listen. So, do not get too caught up in your own agenda, and make sure to put people in charge of the process who master the skill of listening.
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Employee to Advocate: 5 Tips to Enhance Employee Experience
Turn your employees into company advocates with our five top tips on enhancing employee experience.
Does Employee Experience Outweigh Customer Experience?
It is a riddle as old as time: which came first, the chicken or the egg?
While you ponder on that one, let us ask you this: in an organization, who matters most, the customer or the employee? Let’s think for a moment. Our customers bring us the business which keeps our organization afloat. But where would our customers be if our employees weren’t doing their job well? So, we ask you again. Chicken or egg?
In today’s world of influencers and online reviews, opinions matter almost as much as facts. With the wealth of information out there right at our fingertips, we have access to so much more than ever before. One thing we can’t seem to get enough of is other people’s experiences.
Not only do they appeal to our sense of curiosity, but even further, learning about others’ experiences gives us reference to determine our own!
While an unsatisfied customer can harm your company’s reputation with a single negative post, an employee’s bad comments can do just as much damage…if not more! Equally, just as a happy customer can do wonders for business, so too can a happy and fulfilled employee.
With all this in mind, it’s not a stretch to suggest that you should be considering both employees and customers as equally important audiences. So, while there is no doubt that we should appreciate and delight our customers, turning them into promoters and advocates for our company, can you say with certainty that you are doing the same with your employees?
Is Employee Experience Really Worth the Investment?
Yes, it is…because business (and life) is all about the experience!
How do we turn customers into advocates?
By delivering the right products or services? Check.
To the right people? Check
At the right time? Check.
And in the right way? Check, check, double-check.
In doing so, we aim to create unique experiences that are well-tailored to your customer’s needs. The same can be said about the employees. Offering employees a good paycheck or a company car may be nice, but when was the last time you heard someone share that on LinkedIn? We’ve noticed that posts garnish a lot of engagement when people talk about what’s happening at their workplace. This takes many forms, such as sharing a positive team experience or celebrating company-related milestones. In other words, people share experiences!
In the same way we think of our customers, we need to offer our employees the right working environment, fitted to their respective skillset, reflective of their respected personalities, all within the right setting. Organizations are moving beyond the “one-size-fits-all” approach where everybody is offered the same package or placed on a standard career ladder. After all, we are all different and our needs can differ greatly.
The focus today is much more about building company culture and engagement, this means enabling great work environments, cultivating a high-performing team, and enhancing happiness, all inside the workplace!
Take Your Employee Experience to the Next Level with These Tips
We’ve outlined five things you can do right now to enhance your employee experience. Read on and get prepared for all the “World’s Best Boss” mugs that are sure to come.
1. Personalize the employee approach
Just as we do with our customers, start by defining who our employees are and segment them into different employee personas, which are fictional representations of your workforce.
Develop a concise profile to include their goals, expectations and challenges, and then tailor your employee approach accordingly.
For example, someone from your operations team may have different needs as one of your sales representatives. Start with their functional needs, and then work further to their personal preferences. Do they have children and would value flexibility? Do they have a long commute and prefer more remote working? Are they more productive in the morning, or would rather brainstorm over lunch?
2. Mapping the employee journey
We know customers go through the buyer journey, so it is no surprise that employees go through their own journey as well.
The employee journey charts the entire time someone spends at your company, from the hiring process all the way through to offboarding. The journey needs evolution at every stage, so tailor the experience accordingly and identify critical moments that simply matter more.
Remember your first day at work? What about your tenth? Identify those key moments that matter, such as an employee’s birthday or the start of a big project, but also when the going gets tough, like when someone is sick or experiencing a difficult project roadblock. Think about how you can support them in such a circumstance and turn these into positive, memorable experiences by adding that extra personal touch.
3. Develop meaningful relationships
When you think back to a really great experience you had as a customer yourself, whether you were buying a mobile phone or at a restaurant, what do you remember the most? The product itself or the experience you had? Did you feel well understood and therefore got exactly what you wanted?
Now imagine if you could say that about your work. Spend time to get to know your employees on a personal level, know their pet’s names and what they like to do at the weekend, what makes them happy and what they find difficult. Take time to talk outside of work items and become friends beyond just professional needs. After all, loyalty is a two-way street, and you are certainly more loyal towards someone you like!
4. Bring purpose to everyday life
It may sound simple, but it really does all start with the WHY! What makes you get up and go to work every morning? What do you care about the most? What makes you proud? Quite simply put – why are you here?
There is more to a job than just a means to an end. Connect your people to something bigger, something more meaningful that you company stands for, and embed this purpose into everything you do. Link your “why” into your everyday communications: share stories, celebrate success, and have conversations about how an employee’s personal “why” can align to the company “why”. Make it about more than just the tasks at hand and connect this WHY to your employee’s experience every step of the way.
5. Commitment to personal development
Your company might already have a development program, which is great. But is there room to further customize this program? Consider a more agile approach to developing people, one that empowers employees to identify their own performance gaps and choose personalized learning methods best suited to them individually.
Aside from your bi-annual performance reviews, offer more regular guidance on their daily job performance. Take time to talk to your employees about challenges they face on a regular basis and find ways to support them. The key is making this a part of your regular routine. It’s great to go to the dentist every six months for a checkup, but you should brush your teeth every day as well, right?
Drive Employee Engagement with Powerful Comms
It’s no big secret that employee engagement drives performance. Take the time to enhance your employee experience and engagement will follow. Advocacy takes time, but it all starts here. Because when it comes down to it, there is no chicken or egg. Remember, employees have joined a company because of the great impressions during the interviewing stages. It is, however, a choice to stay and contribute every day, and even more so to then actively promote it to the world!
With our team of dedicated specialists, Mach Media is here to help enhance your employee experience every step of the way! By incorporating purposeful communications with creative designs and tailored messaging, we keep your internal audience in the know, so you can focus on building those meaningful relationships directly.
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Make Your Message Heard with Authentic Communication
Our inboxes are stuffed. Social media platforms inundate us with advertisements practically every other minute. The world feels constantly abuzz. It’s really no stretch to say that communication channels today are oversaturated.
So, how can you make your communication stand out? And perhaps more importantly, when you have something meaningful to communicate, how do you ensure your intentions are clear in your messaging and people are really hearing you?
Authenticity is your answer.
The Trend of Authenticity
We know, we know, authenticity is everyone’s favorite buzzword lately. That’s not lost on us. But taking a second to reflect, authenticity’s rise to prominence makes a lot of sense. Culturally, we’re in the midst of a purpose pursuit. Having a sense of purpose motivates us to drive forward and achieve, and helps us feel fulfilled in life. Take millennials, for example, who’d rather pass up a higher salary to work for a company driven by social purpose.
In our pursuits of purpose, we are constantly yearning for a sense of authenticity; it’s important for us to quickly distinguish what’s real and what’s not. No more fake news – we want truth and transparency. It’s the physical embodiment of #NoFilter. We don’t have time to waste on facades of falsities – give it to us straight or don’t bother at all.
This insatiable desire for realness is also reflected in attitudes towards brands and businesses.
90% of consumers admit that authenticity is crucial when deciding which brands to support. We want the brands and businesses we support to also be driven by a sense of purpose, and we want to be able to easily distinguish what this purpose is through brand communications.
The rise of social media influencers could also be explained by our desires for authenticity. Who better to promote brands and businesses than everyday people living a seemingly normal life just like you?
With transparency and honesty in vogue, we’re seeing many major brands responding. Some are opting for influencers to authentically tell a meaningful story that exemplifies a brand’s purpose. Others are delivering campaigns fully centered on purpose, even if that means telling customers not to buy their product. All in all, it boils down to offering authentic realness in the place of perfectly curated execution.
Authenticity’s Shelf Life
Many speculate that it was Dove’s Real Beauty campaign launched in 2004 that initially gave authenticity within marketing its footing. Seventeen years later, authenticity is still relevant for brands and remains a powerful marketing and communication tool. It’s not lofty to assume that authenticity will continue on as the dominant trend shaping and maintaining how businesses market themselves and communicate to consumers.
If you haven’t yet introduced authenticity into your brand’s communications yet, now might be a good time to do so. However, it’s necessary to consider how exactly you will utilize authenticity, especially within your communications. This is something that should take critical thought and reflection because, while we can consider authenticity a trend in some ways, it’s also important to also recognize it as a philosophy. As such, we see authenticity’s salience, which hopefully discourages ill-intended businesses from capitalizing on authenticity to mislead consumers.
Don’t think about authenticity as a trend-wave to jump on. Recognize that implementing authenticity within your brand and communication should be a nuanced process. After all, there is no “one size fits all” method to creating authentic communication. Let’s dig a little deeper into authentic communication to understand this more.
What is Authentic Communication?
Most simply, for a business, authentic communication is messaging that transparently reflects the business’s values, motives and aspirations. Normally, authentic communication doesn’t stand alone. Rather, it’s backed up by the actions taken by a business to support what it believes in. And vice versa. Although, it should go without saying: if you say you’re going to do something, do it, otherwise don’t bother with authentic communication at all.
When it comes to tone, authentic communication doesn’t beat around the bush. It doesn’t hide or obscure truth (which, coincidentally, is what marketing and communication have historically been devised to do). It’s communication without hyperbole, fluff, or corporate buzz words.
It’s important to note that communicating authentically also has a lot to do with listening authentically. Creating truly authentic communication is a symbiotic process, requiring that you actively listen to the people your business engages with. Take responsibility for your communication and its impact. You should not only mean what you say but additionally, ask for feedback on what you say to ensure your messaging is resonating properly and genuinely.
One final principle of authentic communication is its ability to foster connection between the communicator and their audience. If done correctly, authentic communication should demonstrate a genuine interest and willingness to engage in dialogue with an audience in order to learn more from them and ultimately develop a lasting connection with them.
Authentic Communication to the Rescue?
So, if authenticity is the answer to amping up your communications to ensure they’re being heard and seen, shouldn’t you just cut the corporate lingo, put pen to paper and write directly from the heart?
Not so fast.
What’s interesting about authenticity and notably authentic communications, are the strict unspoken norms that govern what can actually be deemed authentic. Ironically enough, perfecting your authentic voice in order to produce genuinely authentic communication takes practice.
As we mentioned, there is no “one size fits all” method for creating authentic communication. Finding your business or brand’s authentic voice should take time and effort, and most importantly, reflection. To help you get started, we’ve outlined three top tips for crafting authentic communication for an external audience.
3 Top Tips for Authentic Communication
What is Your Why?
Get serious about your business’s guiding purpose and evaluate how your values and goals underline your purpose. You should be crystal clear on what your business stands for and how its operations are aligned in supporting your purpose. This is a serious exercise to undertake and will ultimately aid you in developing a solid foundation to base your communications on. Remember, “to thine own self be true.” When it comes to authentic communication, don’t just copy what other businesses are doing. Your purpose should be unique to your business, making your messaging just as unique.
What’s Standing in Your Way?
Come face to face with what you feel is holding you back from speaking and communicating authentically. Maybe you’re worried that relevant stakeholders might take issue with a new communication methodology that champions transparency over the bottom line. Sit down and have an open and honest chat with them. Express that in today’s world, focusing on transparency could likely make a positive impact on your bottom line.
Concerned with how your customers would react to your authentic voice? Gauge the temperature by opening up a dialogue with a few customers you’ve already established a relationship with. Maybe this is something they’ve been long awaiting. Remember that a major part of authentic communication is authentic listening.
Worried that what you have to say might be considered controversial? If it’s potentially harmful to an audience, then your communication might be better left unsaid.
Step 1: write your messaging utilizing your brand or business’s authentic voice.
Step 2: reflect on what you’ve written by yourself and with others.
Step 3: revise your messaging based on internal reflection and external feedback.
Step 4: do it all over again and don’t be afraid to continually repeat steps 2 and 3 until you feel your communication genuinely conveys your feelings and clearly transmits your authentic message.
Need help with Your Authentic Communications?
When it comes to authentic communications, there’s a lot to consider. But it doesn’t need to be complicated! We’re communications experts skilled in helping brands and businesses find and develop their authentic voice. We love supporting our clients in creating authentic communications that truly resonate with their audiences—it’s a part of our purpose! At Mach Media, we’re all about crafting communications to make an impact and make a difference. Ready to make a splash with your authentic communication? Contact us today!
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