This is the second of a two-part interview with Rebecca Clout, Director of Employee Communications for Honeywell Aerospace, on the fantastic ways the company is reaching its 40,000 employees around the world.
Q: What tools do you provide to managers to help them communicate more effectively to their teams? A: Managers for us are a core component to communications. Managers are there to help share information with employees to help promote awareness and understanding, as well as engage in dialogue to capture questions, concerns and ideas from employees. We recently have done a couple of things with our manager population. We did a third-party focus group session with them; we went out and talked to them about what information they use, what they don’t use, what tools they need, what they find helpful, what’s missing, what are the gaps, etc. And what we heard was that everyone is extremely busy and they want to be able to receive information in a way that’s clear, simple and easy to understand, and then have the tools available to them to help share that message effectively.
As a result, we’ve created what we call a “10-minute Toolkit” and a “Manager Minute.” The 10-minute toolkit is a template style, two-page document. The first page has very clear actions around what the topic is, why it’s important, who it should be shared with, what the deadline is to share it with, and links to where you can get more information. It really gives a lot of the instruction base. The second page is focused on the core messages that we need to have shared or an update on a key business initiative. It’s a two-page, simple, easy to use document.
They have chair meetings or they pull employees together for 15 minutes to give updates on what’s going
on. They like the two-page toolkit because it’s short and very easy to use. Others obviously might be senior level managers or leaders who host large employee meetings. We provide them with a PowerPoint presentation as well that complements that manager toolkit.
The “Manager Minute” is something we do quarterly. It’s a package that we share with managers. We have five must-do business priorities. Each quarter, the document aligns to one of those priorities and we put together two or three PowerPoint slides that we share with managers on a core topic relating to those business priorities. We then accompany that with a three-minute video from our CEO who is speaking to that priority. The manager can hear how the CEO is sharing it and then he/she has a toolkit available to them that they can then go and talk with their team members about it. The big part of the toolkit is: “Here are the business priorities of the company,” and the managers main role is: “Let me make that relevant for you, what does this mean for me, what does it mean for our team and what are we doing or what do we need to be doing to support that business objective.”
When you put out a mass communication, you absolutely can share critical information. But when you’ve got employees all around the world working on different things, it’s very difficult in that mass context to bring it down to the individual or team level. This manager piece complements everything we do at the mass level to then bring it down to that more intimate message: “Let’s now talk about what does this really mean for our team and what do we need to do, what should we focus on, or how are we contributing to this?”
Q: Is there a feedback mechanism built into this process? A: Yes, not only do you have the manager sitting down and saying, “Let me share my perspectives on this,” but the manager component allows for the two-way dialogue, which is critical so that people can further increase their understanding and ask questions, along with discussing how they can take action. Our mass communications through video are fantastic and are very well received, but you need to really tackle it from a multilevel approach. This brings it down a level where managers and their teams feel engaged and can discuss what is most impactful, most relevant for them and really can become a little bit more clear on what their contribution is or what their focus should be.
Q: What is next for your team? A: We always want to be doing better and doing more. We’re really driving toward being more mobile and looking to do some opt-in applications for employees where they can join and get information when they are outside of the company on their own time, or on their breaks. That’s not only for the manufacturing employees, but we get that feedback from our sales teams or our employees who are out doing field service with customers. It’s a big thing for them. So that’s really where we’re going next – focusing on the mobile piece. Our goal is to try and launch something next year.
We’re excited about it. It’s a big thing and we want to make sure that what we put out there in this app will be obviously text based, but also video based. We are looking to have a little bit of engagement. We want people to be able to “like” things and share things like on Facebook. Once again, we’re working to really take the corporate communications mold and integrate it and adapt it to what people are doing in their everyday lives.
Q: You’ve had a lot of communication roles in your career. Why do you like internal communications? A: I’ve done MarComm and I’ve done PR. I really enjoy employee communications. Not everyone does. A lot of my PR or marketing communications counterparts would tell you all day long that his/her job is more exciting, but I am not sure I agree. Communications, in general, is a fascinating career. But I think that in communicating with employees, there is a huge amount of responsibility to help drive the growth of the business. Employees want to be aware of where are we going, what’s the vision, what’s our plan, etc. We need to help employees understand why decisions are made and how each of them provides a valuable contribution to the business. It’s important stuff and at the same time, we need to try to find ways to keep it engaging and interesting, and easy to use as well as brief, because all of us can easily get lost in the shuffle of our 200 or more business emails each day.
In Part 1 of this interview, Rebecca talked about Honeywell’s TV news style broadcasts and how they use video to reach and engage employees.
* * * * *
ABOUT REBECCA CLOUT
Rebecca Clout, Director of Employee Communications at Honeywell Aerospace, joined the company in 2011. She develops internal communications strategies and tactics to drive Aerospace business messaging to global Aerospace employees. Rebecca also drives the development of new, innovative communications channels including online and digital tools, two-way feedback mechanisms and integration with site communications to reach non-online employees. Rebecca is also responsible for leading issues management and crisis communications activities and co-leads the Aerospace Women’s Council. Rebecca has extensive experience in all aspects of communications including public relations, media & analyst relations, marketing communications, event coordination and internal communications. Before joining Honeywell, Rebecca spent 13 years with General Motors.