Build Trust Today With Employees

In this video, Todd explains why it’s important for leaders to start building trust with employees today. The longer you wait to establish a real bond with your employees, the more you put at risk – not only for yourself, but also the company at large.

Generation Now: The Future of Employee Engagement in the Age of Now

According to a recent survey of 2,000 US and UK office workers, 76% of businesses in the UK and US still rely on mass emails to communicate with staff. Is it any wonder, then, that less than half of workers are satisfied with the communication they get from senior management?

Employees these days expect regular and timely communication. They want to hear about what’s happening when it’s happening – and when it matters, they want to hear from leadership directly.

Generation Now

What can you do to guard against communication breakdown? What mix of communications guarantees all employees consistently feel engaged and motivated?

Download this report and gain access to the latest research on employee attitudes towards current workplace communication, the future of face-to-face interaction, and how business leaders can keep their teams informed in an age of remote working:

  • Learn about changing workplace expectations
  • Examine new ways to engage all employees at once
  • Better understand IT’s role in your work

Get your copy today!

The Future Of Collaboration

From US broadcast February 7th

Video Communications Platforms & The Skype For Business Revolution

Watch this webcast and learn why and how you need to prepare your company for coming innovations in unified communications (UC) and enterprise video.

Three business people gathered around and looking at the same laptop

In this informative session, John and Todd zero in on the issues you need to be thinking about as you modernize your enterprise communications and employee engagement initiatives. They explore Skype for Business, including how to harness the power of Skype Meeting Broadcast in your internal or external video communications.
Skype for Business

Both Executive Communications and Telecom Program Directors will learn:

  • The Skype for Business journey—today and the future
  • The extended capabilities of Skype for Business—an inclusive approach to communications
  • Skype Meeting Broadcast video and the importance of the connected executive
  • The changes that drive new expectations for executive transparency and employee engagement

Fill out the form to watch the webcast.

Read the Q & A

8 Types of CEO Videos that Employees Will Want to Watch

This new download, created in partnership with Ragan Communications, offers inspiration for incorporating the power of video into the toolkit of your chief executive—and other top leaders.

Businessman looking at his device with interest

Discover the perfect approach for your brand, be it a quick smartphone video or a polished production with a script and full crew.

Download this free tip sheet, and you’ll learn:

How to pick up insights and inspiration useful for newbies and old hands as well.
How companies such as Wal-Mart, GE,, Hamilton Health Sciences, Home Instead Senior Care and others use video.

  • How Wal-Mart live-casts can unite distant employee audiences.
  • Why a Canadian CEO has staffers teach him their jobs.
  • Why background video can make a CEO’s exhortations visually exciting.
  • How to reinforce messages by interviewing multiple executives.
  • Why staffers love seeing their executives in parody videos.
  • The importance of employing green-screen technology.

Download your free tip sheet now.

The Foundation of Trust and Transparency – Part 3

Essential Executive and Internal Communications Topics

by Todd Johnson, President of Kollective

This article is part 3 in a 3-part series about the kind of content that builds better engagement and trust with employees.

Read Part 1
Read Part 2


Business woman waiting at the train station smiling

In part 1 of this series, I explore transparency in communications from the executive point of view. I describe ways executives can build trust by communicating with employees on a personal level, by taking the time to educate all people in the company on ‘the numbers’ and by being open about the executive decision-making process.

In part 2, I explain how to create transparency around the company’s strategy and also the importance of underscoring customer empathy for your employees.

In part 3, I shed light on the employees themselves and explain why incorporating stories about individuals and teams in your communications is so critical.

Employee focus

The employees are what make companies great. They are hard to recruit, and even harder to replace when they leave. Focusing on them in video communications is critical and there are multiple reasons why, including:

  • It is a great opportunity to reinforce company values
  • Give visibility to the things that make the company distinctive
  • Chance to show diversity
  • Chance to show the power of team work

We Shine as Individuals

Employee spotlights are compelling. Spotlighting an employee means focusing on people that do interesting jobs within the company or have interesting backgrounds.

I’ll never forget a quick spotlight a company did on one of their Tokyo-based employees. It was someone in the customer support group who, by most measures, seemed to be an average employee. What was extraordinary, in part, was the 2-hour commute she had to work each day. She lived far from the city on a small farm with her husband and in-laws. They were recently married and could not afford to live on their own yet. They certainly could not afford to live in the big city. Her story really touched people and made them think, especially those in the US and Europe who could not relate to her commute. It also created a connection to our teams in India, where there too we had employees that regularly took trains and buses over an hour each way to work.

In addition, the video showed how she had helped a customer in Japan properly shutdown their system in the wake of the March 11th, 2011 earthquake so they would not lose any of their data from the day’s analytics run. I was in Tokyo that day, and can testify to the fact that her ability to stay focused on serving a customer in the midst of that tragedy was remarkable.

This video spotlight worked on so many levels: human, employee, customer, company. But remember, consistency is the key. Create a program that highlights various employees and create a schedule around this part of your program that builds expectation for the next story. Focus on the normal people, the people that do the work and don’t confuse this with getting more transparency from executives.

We Shine as a Team

Team wins are another great way to deliver powerful messages that further reinforce company values. Much success within an organization is achieved through team work, and conversely, many great failures are the result of not working well as a team.

One of my absolute favorite stories of team success took place a number of years ago. The company I worked for had both a high-end and low-end products division. One of our competitors had launched a strong product that fit right between our low-end and high-end systems. It had the computing capability of our high-end expandable range and the cost-effective graphics of our low-end line.

Now, in a company where there was a healthy, but serious, level of competition between the product divisions, collaborating was not always easy. But the team rallied and built one of the company’s most successful products to rival what the competitor had produced. The hard part was the expandable chassis board required to interface the graphics and the compute platform had to be built from scratch in less than 3 months, over the Christmas Holidays, by a combined team from both divisions. That board was later named the “Grinch Board” – the board that stole people’s time off over Christmas.

Needless to say, the combined team hit the deadline and saved the coming quarter’s revenue goals, and ultimately, the fiscal year’s goals as well. In those days our products were all named by color and that product was fittingly named “Crimson”.

The combined products team was celebrated because they did something outside the box, in an impossible timeframe, with their counterparts from their rival division. They put the company first and showed the power of commitment, and the magic of team work and innovation.
This article series is intended to help you come up with a strategic formula for your executive and internal communications content that moves the needle on engagement and trust with your employees. When regularly embedded in your corporate communications program, this content can really make a difference. The topics and approaches I highlight are perfect for video, less so for print. I hope you are now further down the path of developing your blueprint for success and balanced content plan built on rich stories and powerful examples.

This article is part 3 in a 3-part series about the kind of content that builds better engagement and trust with employees.

Read Part 1
Read Part 2


The Foundation of Trust and Transparency – Part 2

Essential Executive and Internal Communications Topics

by Todd Johnson, President of Kollective

Part 2 in a 3-part series

Read Part 1 here


Video camera ready to film someone speaking

In part 1 of this series, I explore transparency in communications from the executive point of view. I describe ways executives can build trust by communicating with employees on a personal level, by taking the time to educate all people in the company on “the numbers” and by being open about the executive decision-making process.In part 2, I explain how to create transparency around the company’s strategy and also the importance of underscoring customer empathy for your employees.


If trust is the foundation of all strong, positive company cultures, then transparency is the primary path to achieving that trust. I focus on transparency because it is an actionable topic. There are of course other ways to drive-up trust, but transparency is the main one I focus on herein.


Transparency on strategy is something everyone would expect to see on the “essential communications” list. It is somewhat obvious, but it is also hard to do correctly. Quite often organizations end up sharing goals under the guise of strategy. Financial targets, growth rates, etc. are not a strategy. They may be the measurable goals that you assign to determine success, but they are not the strategy. Communicating strategy is about walking employees through how you plan on meeting those goals as well as how they translate to each business unit.

What employees want to understand in terms of strategy include topics like:

  • The key elements of success for the company
  • A product line expanding to new price points, and why
  • Opening new geographies, and why

How to measure success is key to include, but should not be the center of the discussion. I typically see the best strategy slides presented at either Board Meetings or at meetings with financial analysts (for public companies). Those slides may need some edits, but they are usually more on-target in terms of covering strategy than most all-hands decks. Transparency is about showing people what you are doing as a company, why, and how they fit into the plan.

Customer Empathy

Most employees care deeply about what their company does for customers. They may work in finance or in manufacturing and rarely interface with customers, but most want to know how customers use their company’s solution to solve complex problems.

Developing customer empathy amongst employees involves setting a tone, or creating an understanding, that is driven by knowledge and consistency. Knowledge in this sense means being informed about what the company does for customers and how important it is to them, and consistency means maintaining this empathy on a day-to-day basis within the business.

What We Do for Customers

Bringing customers in to speak to employees directly or through video is one of the most powerful ways to create customer empathy. Oftentimes customers have a way of verbalizing what matters most to them that stands out clearer than the company’s marketing messages. First-hand customer accounts also help employees better grasp the critical nature of the products they deliver.

Regularly featuring customer success stories in your communications is effective, and fun, but sometimes sharing a story about something that went wrong can be even more powerful. Years ago, an old employer of mine built high-end systems that were used to render animation for major movie projects. At one point, we experienced a quality issue with a new product that impacted our shipments for a few months. Internally, this did not seem catastrophic since we were sure we would make it up at the end of the quarter.

However, for one of our big animation customers, it was a disaster. The customer was working on final renderings to support the launch of a feature film and our issues were impacting their schedule to the point of potentially delaying the launch of the movie – ouch!

In the end, we rallied and loaned the customer some incremental gear, and after extraordinary work on the customer’s side, they made their deadline. A number of employees from the customer company had to work around the clock and sacrifice weekends because of our issues. Hearing their story directly made a strong impression on our team. From that day forward, we promised to keep the customer perspective front and center in everything we did.

How We Help Customers Achieve

Another way to make strategy come to life for employees while continuing to drive home a consistent message of customer empathy is to highlight the ways that enable the company to gain new customers. Building products that expand the company’s usefulness to existing customers and allow it to serve new ones is something people take pride in. From the start, illuminate what you are trying to help the customer achieve.

Customer Feedback

Regularly sharing with employees the letters, phone calls, tweets and other communications that come from customers is also very valuable. With good feedback, mentioning specific employees the customer may have congratulated is of course a great motivator, but the general sentiment also goes a long way.

You may not always have A+ reviews, but the words of a frustrated customer can still be used to your advantage. Negative reviews provide an opportunity to open a conversation about how the company may need to improve. Of course, in these cases, do not call out specific employee names since public embarrassment is not an effective way to build morale.

Directly linking both good and bad customer feedback cases to company strategy, to drive improvement and support specific goals, is also an excellent connection to make. In this way, you can build a very specific image in employees’ minds why improvement in this area matters so much.

This article is part 2 in a 3-part series. Please check back in with me next week to read more about the kind of content that builds better engagement and trust with your employees.

These topics, when regularly embedded in your corporate communications program, can really make a difference. They are perfect for video, less so for print. I encourage you to get you started on a balanced content plan full of rich stories and powerful examples.

Read Part 1 here


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