For those in the professional PR, communication, and marketing industry, Seth Godin needs no introduction. When Seth writes and blogs, it’s wise to listen and learn. Monday morning (03.18.13) Seth blogged, Communication is a path not an event, about being at an event and hearing a CEO speak for about 20 minutes to a group of 150 people. The conversation was one-way and from a prepared set of notes. Seth’s main point is that if you asked the 150 attendees an hour later what the CEO said, no one could have summed it up for you.

The scenario that Seth describes isn’t new. You’ve been there before I’m sure. Having to listen to a long prepared presentation with no chance to ask questions or engage with the speaker. How about looking at the scenario through the lens of an employer to employee relationship? Is there another alternative? Seth provides some insight:

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“… what if [the CEO mentioned in Godin’s blog] had taken three minutes (just three) to say, “Let’s talk.” [Gave] out his personal contact info or an easy way (and a good reason!) to engage with his staff. And then [gave] up the podium and let the event go forward.  No, the point of the talk should have been to open the door to have a better, individual conversation soon.

“Let’s talk,” uses today’s interaction to make it more likely you have one tomorrow. And a dialogue leads to connection, which leads to trust which leads to engagement. Yes, it’s surprisingly difficult in today’s oversaturated communications world to succeed even with an offer of “let’s talk,” but it’s demonstrably better than the alternative. Drip, drip, drip.”

Communicating well – especially in a digital and short form communication world – takes a different approach. Long speeches and monthly email newsletters may ‘get the word out’ or ‘keep people in the know’ but is that what an organization or company really wants with their employees? Of course not!

Many preach ‘Engagement!’ but then leave the podium or send emails from a do-not-reply@corporate.com email address and wonder why no one engages, a company has high employee turnover, and people cite ‘poor communication’ on exit interviews. Methodology is just as important as technology.

Rethinking ‘how’ to communicate in order to achieve engagement is crucial. Notice that dialogue leads to connection; connection leads to trust; and then trust leads to engagement. If you want engagement, you can’t magically skip steps along way. The first step, though, is connecting the communication chain and granting the opportunity for everyone to join the conversation.

A company that wants to achieve engagement from both its customers AND employees must start with dialogue and walk the path. There is no shortcut to genuine engagement.

Patrick Goodman
Red e App Product and Engagement Director