Thursday, October 18, 2012

Corporate Communications - Vital To Success

When this CEO Blogger began in business 33 years ago, every manager had a secretary who used an IBM Selectric Typewriter to produce Memos, Letters, Proposals etc.   It was a big deal when secretaries got the upgraded Selectric with the white out ball to make corrections.   That all changed in 1984, when the first IBM Display Writer Word Processors were delivered to each office.   In those days, there was usually a Word Processor Room where the secretaries could go to use these machines for bigger projects.  The plight of the secretary changed forever, at least for me, the day, I had a major project to get out and a deadline to meet. 

It was on that day that I told my secretary, rather than me writing out the information on a yellow pad for her to type, could she please just show me how to use the Word Processor.  Since I type 80 words a minute, thanks to my 8th grade typing class and practice on numerous term papers during my university years, I just knew it would be faster if I did it myself on the Word Processor, which allowed for instant editing.   My secretary looked at me as though I was a martian from outer space because MANAGERS just did not type anything in those days because it was "clerical" work.  In fact, many managers, did not even know how to type, which made using a Word Processor impractical. 

In any case, once I realized that using a Word Processor, for most documents, including this daily Blog, was a better use of my time than handing my work to anyone to type, the demise of my personal secretary was sure to follow.   Though I have Admin support from various people in our company when ever I need it for more complex documents, I have not had my own Secretary in more than 25 years and neither does anyone else in our company. 

Corporate Communications forever changed once desk top computers arrived in the 90's for all employees.   There were still some old style Senior Managers that clung to their Secretaries and there still are today in very big companies; but personally, I would have no use for a full time secretary.  And, then came E-Mail.   I was the last person in our company to switch from Voice Mail to Email because I tend to be slow in changing to new technology.  In fact, our employees used to make fun of me because I was not on Email calling me an old fuddy duddy and worse.  Little did they know that I could type 80 words a minute.  Today, they rue the day they chided me into Email because I use it 7/24 to impact daily life in our company.   Email is particularly useful in a global company in dealing with all the timezones we face.  

However, Email can also be a hindrance to Corporate Communications.  I always find it funny that people literally working side by side send Emails to each other, rather than just talk directly.  Problems that can be solved face to face and rather quickly sometimes result in a flood of Emails that make the problem worse.   And, what is really funny is that since I am the President and CEO of our company, people read into my Emails.  Since I have a rather sarcastic sense of humor, sometimes I will end an Email with the words Your Friend, JM, which for some reason really rattles employees.   Or, I may bold a word or sentence for emphasis.  And, if I send out a company wide Email concerning some issue, or behavior that should stop,  some employees immediately assume that I am speaking about them, which often is not true.    OK, OK, CEO's get to have some fun once in a while.  

There cannot be too much Corporate Communications.  It is better if it happens face to face rather than by Email, which today can be facilitated by video connectivity around the world.  How cool is that.  When in doubt communicate more, not less.   And, since many Managers have demanded I-Phones, which give them Email, that makes them 7/24 employees too, just like me.   This is a double edged sword as employees try to balance work life issues.  Corporate Communications should be as clear and concise as possible to be effective.   Tell the story, tell the story again if needed and seek confirmation that the employee understood.  Continuous Corporate Communications is vital to the success of every company and it is a never ending process.  Your Friend, JM

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