With over 20 years of experience in employee communications and as a certified change management practitioner, Andrea Greenhous combines strategic thinking and innovative ideas to help organizations communicate and connect with their employees. Andrea is the president of Vision2Voice Communications, a consultancy that specializes in internal communications and the people side of organizational change.

Chuck: Welcome to Chuck Chats Andrea!

Andrea: I am excited to be ‘here’ Chuck!

C: It’s certainly a different style of “chat” but it makes it easy to truly explore topics.

A: I’m up for anything.

C: You are the president of Vision2Voice Communications. What’s the background of Vision2Voice?

A: Vision2Voice comes from the idea that every company has a unique voice that should be used to help the company achieve its vision.

I started almost 19 years ago after my daughter was born. I worked in marketing and communications for a health and life sciences company and decided to do my own thing while my kids were growing up.

First, I was doing writing and marketing work for small clients and then I started doing large scale change management projects for the government of Canada, in departments like National Defence.

canadian-mountie-national-defence

My heart has always been in employee communications and how it can really create a great employee experience and culture. So I have been focused on that for a long time now.

C: Let’s unpack that.

How do you define change management? I’ve seen some say that essentially all employee communications are or should be change management.

Do you agree?

A: Yes, I would agree with that.

If employees are informed, involved, and inspired, change becomes easier because people know where the company is going and why.

When employees have the knowledge and information to do their jobs, they feel supported, they are more resilient, they understand the big picture and the direction the company is going in, and they feel like they’re a part of it.

Instead of change being done to employees, it’s a natural evolution of the business. That is why I am really focused on improving how internal communications happens in the first place.

 

If employees are informed, involved, and inspired, change becomes easier because people know where the company is going and why.  

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C: Earlier you mentioned that every company has a unique voice. I was just at an event where they talked about how important the employee voice is to leadership.

And, sad to say, some communicators honestly said their leaders don’t care. What does a communicator do with that?

A: Tough question.

I work with leaders a lot. They need to understand that their people are the key to their success. I believe that this is slowly changing and I think that the internal communications community has a key role to play in helping leaders understand why internal communications matters.

That’s why I wrote my book, The Captain Wants to Waterski. I do a lot of writing about this.

We need to be tying what we do to business success. Unfortunately, a lot of leaders still think that supplying free lunches and letting people bring their dog to work on Friday is all they need to do.

C: I felt bad for the communicator. My advice, jokingly, was that one day that leader will retire or die OR you will find a better place to work.

When you’ve worked with communicators and change management, how do you define or measure success?

A: Well, there are lots of measures we can use—unfortunately not a lot of companies are actually using them so that makes getting hard data a challenge.

Of course, I like to look at metrics like how many people visited the new information portal or read and commented.

But the real success is when you start to hear people getting excited about what is happening, when your message is repeated in the hallways, in meetings, in the President’s Op-Ed pieces, and when you start to see the shift in attitudes and behaviors.

 

We need to be tying what we do to business success. 

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C: But what can communicators take to leaders to show them it’s a success? What will leaders pay attention to?

A: There is tons of cool research and information out there on how to build great organizations that we need to be armed with.

When I work with leaders I explain why I am advocating certain approaches and I have the data, the science, and the stories to back it up, so they listen and trust me.

Then I start showing results and I am not afraid to point them out—the soft and hard proof in terms of metrics and also business results.

When my advice is not followed and the results are not there, I explain why the approach didn’t work.

C: You’re getting the tough questions because I think this is where communicators tend to stumble the most.

 

When I work with leaders I explain why I am advocating certain approaches and I have the data, the science, and the stories to back it up, so they listen and trust me.

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A: I thought it was because I am so smart! lol

C: That, too. I noticed that this year you started writing about job love relationship hacks.

What’s the nexus of these?

A: It started on Valentine’s Day and I was inspired by something I read by an engagement expert named Jason Lauritsen.

It said, one of the biggest challenges leaders face today is attracting and keeping top talent, and the way to keep people is to make sure they love their jobs.

A job is a relationship and so I came up with some relationship success factors that are not very different from the things that make our personal relationships successful. Then, each post explores the role that communications play. I think we have a few more to explore and I am really excited about the next few posts.

C: Which one is your favorite so far? I’ve seen you’ve written about understanding, trust, respect, and fulfillment.

A: Trust is huge for me.

Trust is extremely powerful in organizations. I am a big fan of Stephen R. Covey’s work in this area.

C: I think of your posts, the one that stood out to me is respect. I began thinking about different layers of respect within companies.

I know that many communicators don’t feel respected by leaders. What disappoints me most is when I see communicators not having respect for their peers and coworkers, like in manufacturing and retail.

We need to work together to educate leaders and organizations about the difference that internal communications can make.

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A: Again, I think that we need to work together to educate leaders and organizations about the difference that internal communications can make.

I think having the facts, the data, and the science (neuroscience in particular) about what makes people tick and what motivates them can be used to engage, understand, and connect.  And in turn, this can really help accelerate business success.

We need to work together to up our game and to boost each other so that we are valued.

When it comes to a lack of respect for each other, that is a shame.

I am reading Brene Brown’s, Dare to Lead right now and there is a big section on empathy. We need to have more of that in the workplace and it’s not really a communicator’s place to push that, but we can lead by example.

I think a lot of the feelings about the lack of respect stems from a lack of empathy and understanding of each other. It is usually one of my top priorities when I start working with an organization—understanding my audience at the emotional and intellectual level.

C: Internal communicators are in such a great place inside a company to win the hearts and minds of employees. Instead, so many simply want to make their bosses and leaders happy. I’d love to see more of them listen and empathize, instead of reacting.

A: Yes, I agree.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I think IC is a fairly new thing, especially in North America. It is the role of vendors and experts like you and me to help move the needle and support internal communicators.

I have started a Mastermind group for internal communicators so we can solve these problems together. There are lots of other ways we can join forces to build the credibility of our industry and boost the skills and confidence of communicators.

C: Oh I am far from an expert on this—I’m more of a pot stirrer/cheerleader. But let’s wrap this up emoji style. Share your passion of the internal communications profession using only emojis.

A: OK where are my teenagers when I need them!

💡🚣🎯🏹🧭📈🧬💬💭❤️📖🦸😁

C: Thanks for being on Chuck Chats!

A: Thank you Chuckit was fun and a great discussion.