The New Era of Realism
Recently I attended the Melcrum Strategic Communications Conference in Chicago, both as a presenter and a program chair, and I was amazed at how quickly things can change. A year ago at Melcrum and other communications conferences, you couldn’t avoid talk of social media and its implications within the organization.
This year? Attendees seemed to have had enough. While still an evolving ingredient in the communications mix, the social-media frenzy appears to be waning. In an economy that continues to shed jobs at a steady clip, employees have no patience or respect for relics such as slick corporate videos, big stage shows and events, or fancy brochures – let alone a Twitter feed.
Welcome to the New Era of Realism – at least that’s what I’m calling it.
So what do employees want? Real speech, real conversations – not mere snippets of information in a polished slide presentation. At the Melcrum conference I heard a terrific example of how one Fortune 500 company uses unscripted, face-to-face, two-way communications to get employee buy-in and understanding.
Every Monday morning, at one of the largest Unilever Food Services facilities in the U.S., a senior business leader hosts a session titled “Real Talk.” The informal 20-minute session is open to all employees at that facility. And when I say “informal” I mean it: no scripts, no, slides. The first topics focus on what’s happening in the marketplace and what Unilever is doing in response. Next – and this happens every week – there’s a recognition component. “Real Talk” concludes with a Q&A session. If someone misses a session, they can catch it on the division’s intranet.
Not long ago, the mere thought of hosting meetings like this would have sent shivers through communicators and leaders alike. But times change and so do employee expectations.
So, are you prepared for The New Era of Realism?