|Organizations eager to accomplish strategic
goals establish well-defined communications strategies. A well-defined
strategy is one that engages employees and aligns with the organization's
business goals. A close tie between business, performance technology,
and communication strategies will focus understanding and support
for the direction of the organization. While various combinations
of performance interventions have been developed to help build
a high performing organization, they cannot be effective without
a communications program. Effective communications build awareness
and/or motivate to action, explain a program's value to employees
as well as solicit employee's buy-in. In this paper you will
read about communication strategies that enhance performance,
employed by Intel Corporation a Fortune 500 and world-class
organization. Dennis A. Simmons, Materials People Systems Program
Manager, shares the Materials Communications strategy, delivery
channels, value, and the impact their communications have on
Intel's Materials Communication Strategies
and the Impact on Performance
Organizations eager to accomplish strategic goals establish well-defined
communications strategies. A well-defined strategy is one that engages
employees and aligns with the organization's business goals. The
Materials Communications group at Intel was created to assure employees
received useful, timely, and consistent communications. They partner
with performance technologist and the line of business to ascertain
that communications support and enhance performance throughout the
organization. In this paper, you will read about the Materials Communications
strategy, technology driven delivery channels, and the impact this
communications effort has on performance in the organization.
The Materials Communications strategy is to deliver communications
that are timely accurate, effective, and efficient. The objectives
for their communications are to create effects, maintain effects,
increase effects, and decrease effects. These objectives are directly
linked to enchasing performance that meets the strategic goals of
the organization and the line of business they support. Communications
that create effects focus is on that which did not exist before
- - new awareness, a fresh attitude, and a new behavior by the target
audience. This strategy leads to communications about a change and
they create excitement and motivation. Communications that maintain
effects focus on continuing the level of comprehension, and keeping
the present rate of participation. Communications that increase
effects seek to bring about growth, increasing favorable attitudes
causing a larger retention rate and expanding awareness. Communications
that decrease effects, conversely, focus on subtraction, lessening
criticism, reducing disharmony, decreasing turnover, and softening
For each communication Materials Communications at Intel conducts
a seven-step needs assessment designed to get a "quick start"
on planning and designing communications. Table 1.1 illustrates
the planning step used by Materials Communications and the definition
of each step (D. Simmons, personal communication February 9, 2004).
"Our communications are creative, motivating, and often very
entertaining. They keep us all moving in the same and right direction.
Conducting a thorough analysis of the audience helps us determine
the appropriate delivery channel" (D. Simmons, personal communication
February 9, 2004). The Materials Communications Group provides a
full range of online tools and services to help the line of business
they support with their communication needs. As one would expect
they have embraced information technology and use it very effectively
and creatively. Their approach is to communicate using the appropriate
technology that best meets their objectives. Materials Voices is
a biweekly electronic newsletter sent to all employees. This communication
contains links to the various technology driven delivery channels
used at Intel. The links within the newsletter may take an employee
to a video, a voice message, or a message within an internal website.
Employees who want more interaction can sign on to the CyberTalk,
a chat room where directors and content experts from different business
units are available online to answer questions. All communication
links are sent to employees via email and accessed from the Materials
Business at your Desktop Website. The popular M.TV (Materials TV)
videos produced by the communications team range in topics from
safety requirements, to new systems and tools, and many other hot
topics. These are just a few of the many ways in which Intel communicates
to enhance performance.
|Good communications focus on effects, are
clear, specific, measurable, and time bound. Our communication
objectives tell us what we are aiming for. They describe the
impact we want to make on our audience, giving us a glimpse
of the end result. Specifically we are interested in effect
objectives. They focus not on the tools but rather on what we
want accomplished with these tools (D. Simmons, personal communication
February 9, 2004).
We know that some of the most successful companies create a workforce
that understands the mission, goals, values and procedures of the
organization (Bacal, R. 2004). An example of how communications
at Intel enhance performance is how they maintain their incident
and injury free environment. Safety is one of their strategic objectives
and core value. Their new employee core curriculum includes a three-hour
Incident and Injury Free course. Ninety days after course completion
a level three evaluation indicates that employees are demonstrating
safety behaviors. Many organizations would feel confident that employees
would continue to demonstrate safety behaviors solely because employees
received training and the training accomplished its objectives.
This is a risk Intel is not willing to take. Communications support
all training and non-training performance interventions on the topic
of safety. Their goal is for employees at Intel to reach level five
of Krathwohl's Affective Domain (Krathwohl, 1964). To maintain a
high level of awareness, a series of musical notes resonate through
the intercom system three times each day. If you happen to walk
in at that time, you may observe employees standing, stretching,
or doing a series on exercise at their desk. Some may elect to continue
working, however the awareness of safety is created just the same.
Recently three new exercises that employees can perform at their
desk to reduce stress related injury was communicated via M.TV video.
The safety exercises were also communicated in each staff meeting
and reinforced by managers. This is an example of how Intel reinforces
performance and behaviors through communications.
Knowing the desired performance outcome of a specific communication
(awareness, acceptance, and action) is an essential step. For example,
you may want to build a level of awareness with respect to a new
business initiative and the training available. Alternatively, you
may want to sustain a desired level of retention with information,
image, and name recognition over time (acceptance). Finally you
may also want to motivate target audiences to take specific action
in a relatively short time frame.
Communications at Intel enhance performance by increasing
the likelihood that employees maintain a value system that controls
their behavior for a sufficiently long period of time for them to
have developed a characteristic "life style". Thus the
behavior is pervasive, consistent, and predictable. Other performance
interventions paired with communication outcomes at this level cover
a broad range of activities, but the major emphasis is on the fact
that the behavior is typical or characteristic of the employee.
According to a special report (Bacal, R. 2004), the intent of creating
such cultures is not to dominate or control employees, but to "aim"
them at a set of common goals on which they can act every day.
Communications are an integral component of any performance improvement
approach. High-impact interventions should be enhanced interventions.
They increase the power and longevity of the intervention (Stlovitch
and Keeps 1999). At Intel communicators, performance technologist,
and line management, work together to establish proactive, well-defined
high impact communications.
Bacal, R. (2004). Internal Communication Strategies - The Neglected
Strategic Element. Retrieved February 3, 2004 from http://performance-appraisals.org/Bacalsappraisalarticles/articles/comstrat.htm
Krathwohl, D.R., Bloom, B.S., and Masia, B.B. (1964). Taxonomy
of educational objectives: Handbook II: Affective domain. New York:
David McKay Co.
Stolovitch, H. & Keeps, E editors, (1999). (Eds.) The Handbook
of Human Performance Technology, second edition. SF: Jossey Bass.
|Maria D. Simmons