Creating Culture Through Communication

Creating Culture Through Communication

How do you turn your company culture into something that can build your business from the inside out? It’s all about communication. Victoria Dew, CEO of business consultancy Dewpoint Communications, joins us to share her approach to helping small businesses grow through strong culture and employee communication. We get tactical with the communication methods that create strong cultures, how to communicate for maximum impact and the ways employees can get involved and make a difference.

MP3 | iTunes | Stitcher
Run Time: 39:46

Take our survey to enter a drawing for a free book!


Brandon Laws: Hello and welcome back for another episode of the Human Resources for Small Business podcast. I am your host Brandon Laws. Hey, quick note of apology. I believe I skipped a week on an episode. It was sort of intentional, sort of not intentional. Been doing a lot of planning for 2018, a lot of strategy, and just got really busy. I’ve had material recorded. Just haven’t been able to spend the time to release an episode.

So I apologize for that. I hope it won’t happen again. But I cannot promise that.

But very excited for today’s episode. Today’s guest is Victoria Dew. She is a communications expert who helps businesses with their internal communication, so they can create a culture where people are empowered and engaged, which sounds like every culture that we desire.

Victoria has actually been a listener of this podcast and that’s how we met. We connected and we were just discussing some cool ideas about culture and how marketing and HR are going to need each other because we talked about that on the podcast before.

I love some of her ideas. So I asked her to come on the podcast and can talk about some of those things live in a discussion. So she has got some great ideas. I think you’re really going to like this. Hang on til the very end because she actually provides some very, very tangible takeaways and ways to effectively communicate across your organizations. So I think you’re really going to like what she has to say.

Please give us a review on iTunes or Apple podcast. It has been huge for us in the growth of this podcast. Continue to reach out to me on LinkedIn. I always appreciate that.

I will mention this this time. I do have an Instagram profile. I don’t mind announcing that. It’s unlocked too, so you’re welcome to follow me there as well. I spend a lot more time on Instagram nowadays than Facebook. Don’t like what Facebook has become. I still use it every once in a while. But Instagram, I do like to connect with people there as well.

So feel free to connect with me. Reach out to me. Happy to talk with you. Anyways, enjoy today’s episode with Victoria Dew.

Brandon: Hey Victoria. It’s good to have you on the podcast. Welcome.

Victoria Dew: Hey, Brandon. It’s great to be here. Thanks so much for having me.

Brandon: Of course. You’re my favorite kind of guest! You’re a listener who turned into a guest and you’ve got a lot of valuable content. So I want to talk about your expertise, which is communication. We’ve talked on this podcast relentlessly about the employer brand. I bring it up a lot because I’m a marketing guy and I think you get that.

It’s the culture piece and just talking about it externally is so important to businesses nowadays. And I think what we haven’t really discussed on this podcast – at the most detailed level – what can HR people do to do communications the right way and communicate the culture?

So let’s first dive in and talk about – and I want you to kind of outline it for me and for listeners who maybe haven’t caught our last podcast – why is the employer brand important? Why is talking about culture important in the first place?

Victoria: I really think about your culture is your brand and it starts from within, inside the company. So I think about it as branding from the inside out. How you tell your company’s story to yourselves and the market. And it’s important. I think you cover this in so many great ways in different episodes of your podcast that it’s about having a really consistent narrative, being very clear on the mission, vision, values, internal culture of a company – what I call the nuggety center.

So really knowing what the internal authentic brand is, who you are, who you want to be, what you stand for. The kinds of behaviors that you tolerate, what you celebrate and how you want to work together as a team. I don’t personally believe that you can develop an authentic external brand until you know, or until you’ve kind of done that inner work. I sometimes talk about culture as being like kale for your business. When the inside is healthy, the outside looks amazing.

But an employer brand, which you mentioned, is part of that, right? The employer brand is part of how we talk to our current, future, prospective candidates and team members about who we are. Especially in terms of when it comes to recruiting, making sure that we’re recruiting people who are going to be a culture fit. And that the culture is defined based on those sorts of objective sets of criteria, like our values. We are not just who we want to hang out with, but that our employer brand is a really genuine, accurate reflection of who we are as a company.

Brandon: You bring up such a good point because we’ve talked about the employer brand a lot, which is usually a by-product of working it from the inside out. Developing the culture, developing the mission, vision, values first, figuring out who we are, and then the great employer brand that everybody else sees is sort of the by-product of that, right?

So small companies – this is our audience, small companies for the most part – have they done a good job of developing from the inside out?

Victoria: I think small companies, in some ways, tend to be at a little bit of a disadvantage, right? From a resourcing perspective, and HR in some sense owns culture, and marketing may work with HR to develop some of those external –

Brandon: If they have marketing.

Victoria: Right. Some of those external representations. But in terms of really doing some of the work to communicate and amplify that culture internally, I think it’s harder from a resourcing perspective. And also because the reality is that HR and communications are actually two separate disciplines. And the things – really those two functions – are really birds of a feather, but they really need each other to make that culture – to really bring that to life.

Brandon: Do HR and communications experts know that they need each other? Do they come together and say, “Hey, we need to work together”? Does that even come up?

Victoria: I’ve seen it work really well in larger companies and when it works well, when HR and communications work well together, it’s like a symphony. It’s all the pieces of the people puzzle coming together in one and it can be really transformative for a company when they work well together.

Brandon: You mentioned about larger companies – they have their resources, they know that marketing, communications, HR all need to work together because internally, communications can be a lot better. But externally, they’re really going to figure it out.

Do small businesses even recognize that’s an option or do they even have the resources?

Victoria: First of all, I think every company of every size is always resource-hungry, right? There’s never enough money. There’s never enough head count to do what you want to do.

Brandon: I think you’re calling me out. I have been saying that lately. I need more resources.

Victoria: Everyone at every size company sees that and I’m sure – what we always say is we need to work smarter, right? And part of that is really leveraging that partnership with HR and that’s why I’m passionate about providing that support to HR.

I think companies more and more are realizing – small businesses are realizing more and more that they need to take this seriously. One of the things I hear again and again from even very small companies who are just starting out is – you know, with one, two, three employees bringing on their first people, what they say to me is, “We really want to get this right.” As we bring people on, we know we’re building a team and especially going from even a solopreneur to having a small team of five or ten, they say, “We want to get this right. We want to build this infrastructure right from the ground up.”

I love hearing that. That’s like music to my ears, right? Because the truth is that in smaller companies, if you don’t have – if you don’t understand what that real return on investment in your culture is, you’re putting your business at risk and you’re definitely not going to be able to grow as fast as you could be. Because one of the great things about now – and this hasn’t always been true in my career – is that we know what some of the ROI on culture is, right? We know how it affects your recruitment and retention efforts. We know that it increases your market returns. We know that it improves innovation and productivity and work quality. So I think small businesses really are realizing that they need to take this seriously.

Brandon: I’m glad you brought up that the data says all this because I often think, OK, people like me, I get up on a podcast, get up on my soapbox and say, “Hey, culture needs to be developed. The employer brand needs to be developed,” blah, blah, blah. But I’m not talking about any data and the ROI. What does the data say about this — how culture is actually important? I know you have some information.

Victoria: Great question. Well, I feel like I’ve been doing this work for a long time and I feel – for many years, it was hard to get data. We knew this was better for business, but we didn’t have the data. That’s really how, in my view, employee engagement became such an important metric.

I think employee engagement is important, but it doesn’t tell the whole story of employee experience. The reason engagement scores have become valuable is because it was one way that we could disaggregate how culture was affecting the business.

But now we have so much more research. You know, Great Place to Work has some amazing data on how top cultures around the world perform, how customer experience is improved, about how it improves innovation, how those high trust companies have 3X market returns.

The numbers you see on retention vary anywhere from sort of 25 percent less attrition to 50 percent less attrition. And then you talk about employer brand and there’s that whole employee life cycle and how culture affects every stage of life cycle.

I’ve done a lot of work in the manufacturing sector where safety is an issue and there’s something like 48 percent, according to Gallup, fewer safety incidents in strong cultures and high trust cultures with highly engaged employees.

So there is just so much data that’s coming thick and fast and it’s a really exciting time to be in this area.

Brandon: You mentioned that the culture piece tends to fall on HR. We know that communication is needed. But maybe in small businesses, HR thinks they have to do everything. So in my opinion, these are very different skill sets. HR – they’re really good with people. Communication – they’re obviously good at messaging, simplifying complex messaging for other people.

How do these two skillsets work together? How do each of these departments complement each other?

Victoria: I think what you said is so right on. Well, it is that people connection. And I think that both HR and communications really get at this core, have this shared passion for people, culture and employee experience. And both of them understand that it’s not just a nice-to-have. This isn’t just about making people feel good or having a Ping-Pong table. Both disciplines really do understand this as a business imperative.

You know, both disciplines have also been fighting it for a long time, for a seat at the table, and to be regarded as a strategic adviser and a strategic partner in the business. So it’s really sort of a Golden Age for both HR and communications because this people piece is becoming so paramount.

We see it so clearly in brands that really understand – I say that EX equals CX and CX equals cash, right? Your employee experience equals your customer experience and your customer experience is your revenue, right?

So we see that link so clearly. If you don’t have that really strong internal brand, you can’t deliver a strong customer experience. And we see that in companies like Southwest and Zappos and a million others, TOMS.

Brandon: Yeah.

Victoria: So both disciplines really do share that understanding. And you’re right, they are different skillsets. I’m not an HR practitioner. But of course what I do as a communications consultant goes right up to the edge of HR and obviously I’ve partnered with HR teams closely for a long time.

What I see sometimes is HR practitioners are really great program managers and they have really excellent programs, let’s say around open enrollment or a performance management or some of those pieces.

I think there are some missed opportunities in creating culture with even some of our regular HR pieces. So performance management – how is performance management telling the story of how do we live our values every day. How are we connecting that? How are the behaviors that we reward, the things that we celebrate, how are those an amplification and a sort of surround sound of our values?

And also I think there’s a process piece that gets very heavy in HR because there is so much process. Communications can really help by really putting the audience and the employee back at the center of the communications. It’s that old saying, “What’s in it for me?”

That’s one of the first ways that I like to help HR is to sort of really help them put the person back at the center of the great HR work they’re doing.

Brandon: Let’s take the example of a small company. In their mind, they have an amazing culture. But they’re missing that communication piece, whether it is a little bit of internal communication, but also externally. What happens to that culture if nobody knows how great it is?

Victoria: Internally or externally?

Brandon: I would think externally nobody knows about it. Prospective employees don’t know about it. Customers don’t know about it.

Victoria: I would argue that if you have a great culture internally – and by that, I mean a really strong employee experience and we could talk about what that is. I would argue that your customers probably do know about it.

Brandon: Yeah, that’s what I would think too.

Victoria: Their experience of your business is that they are experiencing your employee’s experience, right? Through their work with them and through those touch points and engagements. But you’re right. There’s a missed opportunity in terms of employer brand and in terms of being able to really recruit great talent. You had Roberta Matuson on the show a while back talking about magnetic leadership, right? That’s also so important in that retention piece. But leadership is such a critical part of how you communicate a strong culture because it really does have to come from the top and it really does take that consistency and commitment of walking the walk and talking the talk.

Brandon: Yeah. I think that’s why it’s interesting. Leadership could have this vision for what they want this culture to be. But they maybe don’t do a great enough job of integrating it. Kind of how you talked about – in all their performance management or just always talking about it because if they do it once in a while, I don’t think it’s going to stick the way it would if you had it integrated into everything that you’re doing, right?

Victoria: Yeah. That’s the difference that great communications can make. Because it gives you that framework and that strategy and that consistency of messaging. It tells the culture story and it tells the story of our values in a whole range of different ways. It gives it that 360 kind of surround sound, so that every touch point with leadership or with HR or with different initiatives throughout the business, is an expression of the culture, of the values. This is how we’re bringing these things to life.

Brandon: What kind of things should be communicated internally?

Victoria: What kind of things SHOULD be communicated internally?

Brandon: The way in which we’re talking about it, the opportunity that’s there to restate the mission, vision, values, to make a very consistent experience across every touch point. So one thing that comes to mind is that you have different departments sending out memos for various reasons. Like it could be, “Hey, open enrollment is happening,” and then another department is saying, “Hey, the holiday party is coming up.” How do you make those very consistent? Do you know what I mean by that?

Victoria: Right. I do know. It’s exactly where a communications function can help you keep all of those very different initiatives in sync with one another. First of all from a trafficking perspective, right? Of course it depends on the size of your company and the style of your company, how many emails are going out. But making sure that all the messaging is consistent and that it tells little pieces of the brand’s story, all the way around, right?

But in terms of what companies should be communicating, I think there’s one – I have one really big answer to that question, which is the most important thing that a company can communicate. And that is to help employees know, “I know how my work that I do every day in my role, I know how that fits into the big picture and how that’s helping us to achieve our goals.” That is the most tactical sort of business-imperative reason, the reason why communications is important. Because there’s a whole range of other ways around that, why that’s important and how that employee would know how their work fits into the big picture.

But part of it is the kind of context, information, understanding they have of shared values and what their employee experience is. And all of those things contribute to their ability to do their job to a very high standard and to contribute to business success, right? That’s how you increase innovation. I always say employees are not like a cactus. They don’t thrive on neglect. You can’t take these people and put them in a closet and expect them to thrive. They have to be tended to consistently and that’s I think an area that both HR and communications are so passionate about.

Brandon: I think one of the huge opportunities in this whole culture piece in communicating is making sure that it’s a two-way street when it comes to communication. Because what I’ve found is you can send out the memos and you can put culture pieces into your performance process. It’s a one-directional communication versus if you give employees a chance to participate, and to your point, be tied to that greater outcome or the greater good or whatever your business objectives are. I think it takes on a life of itself.

Victoria: I think it’s absolutely necessary to have that – not just participation, but co-creation, in the culture. And you’re right. We’ve been talking about it in a very one way – what do we call it – asymmetrical communication. It is so important and I think, to be honest, we see in generational shifts that younger generations absolutely won’t tolerate anything else.

Brandon: Yeah, I agree.

Victoria: So there’s absolutely no option, but to co-create that culture and to have those touch points, those opportunities for engagement, which also makes it a bigger job, right?

Brandon: Yeah, it does.

Victoria: One way that companies do that successfully is – and this goes back to the employer brand and helping to create a strong employer brand – by helping the employees to be strong brand ambassadors. So in social media, sharing what’s going on in the company, outside the company. So that through their networks and through their own social channels, they’re starting to build that employer brand for you. And that’s a great opportunity – you know, some companies do it really well. Other companies get nervous about it and there are some –

Brandon: And rightly so. I get it. You want to control the brand to a certain extent. But I don’t know.

Victoria: You almost can’t control anything that employees do externally, which is also why giving them a really strong employee experience within the company is important. Because they can say and do anything they want to damage your brand outside the company and I think we’ve seen some examples of that in the media recently.

But there’s such great opportunity to really take them along on the journey with you and to build this great, big culture that helps your business grow and improves your productivity, revenue, results and makes your company stronger.

Brandon: I think a lot of times, it just comes down to trust. You got to trust that your people are going to do the right thing and stop trying to control them so much to where if you unlock the social media engagement, maybe they will do the right thing, right? They will engage with your brand in a way that people who are just onlookers, they will see it and say, “Wow! That looks like a pretty cool place to work. Looks like they care about their people.”

Victoria: You know, I think you really hit on a really key point, which is that – it’s the importance of trust and creating a high trust culture. I always say that culture is like the silver bullet for a business. But trust is the silver bullet for culture.

Brandon: Yes.

Victoria: And there has been so much amazing research. There’s a great piece of research on the neuroscience of trust. It was in the Harvard Business Review and his name is Paul Zak and he has written a book called the Trust Factor. There’s some really great research on the metrics of having a high-trust culture at work and that those employees who work in high-trust environments report something like 40 percent less burnout, 106 percent more energy at work. They’ve got 13 percent fewer sick days and report 50 percent higher productivity at work.

So how do you create a culture of trust, right? It really comes down to psychological safety. I feel that I can trust the people around me and that they trust me, right? When you have that, you’re right. It does answer a lot of those questions about brand ambassadors and how to really help your employees to tell your brand story inside and out.

Brandon: So I think a lot of what we’re talking about today is obviously HR. You’re really figuring out how to work with communications teams to effectively communicate, obviously leadership. It starts with leadership with this stuff. We talked a little bit about how employees can engage and really have the culture come through in everything they do. What could employees do to really play a huge role in communicating culture, if there’s any one answer? That’s kind of a big question.

Victoria: So I think it is the responsibility of the company and of leadership to engage employees first. But I will say you should already have recruited the people that are going to be those real brand zealots for you, right? You should have hired the people that are already in love with your brand because you recruited them for your culture. And of course many companies go about it a different way and will do a culture change piece of work later. I’ve also seen that be very successful. It’s a harder way to do it but it absolutely 100 percent can be done and it’s really magical to watch it because it takes a while, but it’s really transformative to see companies change their culture from the inside out.

But I will say that it takes absolute leadership commitment and consistency to stay the course. I would say though, in terms of how to communicate with employees, first of all in terms of your – and of it’s course different for every business and the size – but in terms of communications channels, you know, go where they are. Go what works for them and it’s not one size fits all.

So if your employees are on Slack and you want to create a community on Slack, then do that. If people like to get together in person and you have – these days, not having 100 percent remote teams is getting to be more and more of a luxury. But figuring out how to build that cohesion with teams and then really making the most of it.

Brandon: I want to tap into that communication brain of yours. So our audience, HR people for the most part, you know, small business leaders, I want to run through a couple of different things and ask you very pointed questions about specific things they could do to communicate better. And we’re going to assume that this is just HR people really having to take on that communication piece because they’re small and lack of resources.

So how do you recommend structuring messages or memos to all employees? So that could be an email. It could be something you put on the bathroom door that people see. What do you do? How do you structure it?

Victoria: Yeah. The number one thing to remember I think – and especially – let’s take an email communication. It’s to keep the content snackable, right? Put the audience at the center of what you do and don’t make messages too long. Really put your key messages right up front and especially a call to action. What do you want them to do?

You know, sometimes I see HR teams put a lot about what the program is, why it’s important, the history behind it and then way down at the bottom, please go here and do this thing, right? That’s not putting the audience at the center of your communication. What you want them to do should go right up at the top and then talk about why it’s important and what’s in it for them. But really give them that opportunity to understand what’s being asked of them right from the top.

Also remember – and this sounds sort of crazy – but 250 words is actually sort of the optimal email length now. Which, when you go to do it, seems like you really can’t say very much and it is hard to provide a lot of context there. So you may want to have some of the deeper context coming through in other ways. But after about 400 words – and when you do a word count, you will realize this doesn’t get you very far – after 400 words, you’ve lost your audience.

Brandon: Yeah, I agree with that. I skim those ones.

Victoria: Right, exactly. Everyone skims them and it really doesn’t matter how important it is because everyone has a hundred really important emails. So put the key message and the call to action right at the top. Then all of the other important things about your program later, so that they can dig down. I’m a big fan of bullet points.

Brandon: Yeah, I was going to ask you about that.

Victoria: Yeah. Sometimes you do – obviously in terms of documents, you need longer documents – but I like headings, bolded headings that have basically the key message in the headings.

Brandon: Yeah.

Victoria: So that if you’re scanning a three-page document on something, you could skim just the headings and know what you were supposed to do. I find sometimes even in newsletter articles or things that have a lot of links, in some ways, you want people not to have to click through for more context. You want them to be able to skim.

Brandon: It takes them away from the email too.

Victoria: Yeah. Just to skim it quickly and be like, “OK, I get the gist of that and I’m going to leave it in my inbox. When I need to refer back to it, I can go back to it.”

Brandon: What about all of this new media that’s coming out? It just makes it so easy to attach a voice memo or something to an email or even video, to a certain extent. Do you see employers doing any of that stuff, using multimedia within their email?

Victoria: I see a lot of it. I see companies adapting at different rates and I think the answer there is to do whatever works best for your employees and again to go where they are. If that’s how they’re communicating with each other, that’s how you can communicate with them too.

Brandon: Yeah, that’s a good point. I just see it because – for one, it’s easy to do nowadays with the tools, but because you want to try to integrate that human element to your culture and your brand. Video is nice. You get the audio but you also see the person.

Victoria: Uh-huh. And I think there’s so much about creating community, right? And especially in smaller businesses, doing what’s going to sort of work for that tribe. And a video – if employees respond to video and if that’s what they use, then try it. Of course there are so many new tools and apps that you will – you may try things and then six months, you may drop it and move on to something else because platforms have moved on.

Brandon: OK. So we talked about messages, memos. What about feedback loops? So making sure that there’s some sort of two-way communication. What do employees need from you as an employer? What do they think about the culture? You know, those sorts of things.

Victoria: I think there are – we still have the sort of classic employee engagement surveys and I really do think there is a place for those. But I think they can’t be treated in isolation and that you do need more 360 feedback.

You know, one of the biggest feedback loops is honestly some of these business metrics. I personally don’t believe in – in terms of communications – I don’t do anything because it’s nice to do. I do it because it drives business results.

Brandon: It’s intentional. Yeah, yeah, it makes sense.

Victoria: And I think HR practitioners feel the same way. So go back to those business metrics. You can survey people all day long if you want to. But what do your recruitment and retention rates look like? How strong is your employer brand? What kind of productivity are you seeing? What is going on with revenue and how is your company growing? So a lot of those metrics you can trace back to how well your team is performing.

Brandon: What about recognition programs? How are you communicating recognition? From peers to your people that report to you, anything like that, that could help enhance the culture.

Victoria: Recognition is such an interesting area and of course this is another area where there’s such huge overlap with HR. But I have this really interesting new research that I’ve experienced myself in my own career as being true, which is that recognition really doesn’t have to be monetary or it doesn’t even have to be an Amazon card.

Some of the best recognition I’ve ever gotten was we had a leader who every week in the team meeting would write on a little postcard. He would have an ‘employee of the week’ and just write a little postcard about something that happened during the week and what he recognized and he had seen in you. And every week, first thing, we would announce the ‘employee of the week’ and it was just kind of sweet. And people would tack up their little postcards and there was this thing of having been seen by this leader that we all really admired.

There’s a lot of new research that in fact monetary recognition, if it’s not sustained consistently, the productivity drops off whereas non-monetary recognition, when you give it once, even if it’s not repeated, you don’t win ‘employee of the week’ every week, you still retain those productivity gains.

So it’s a really interesting area. But again, it goes back to that trust and transparency, right? It’s that you feel like you’re a part of a high-trust culture, that you’re trusted and that you can trust the people that you work with.

Brandon: OK. My last one for you that I want help on with communication. How do you put mission, vision, values on display? Because a lot of times, leaders of a company and executive teams, they will create it in their little silo. And then what do they do with it? How does the rest of the organization use it?

Victoria: Well, first I wish they would not create it in a little silo.

Brandon: Yeah, that was our point about getting people involved, right?

Victoria: There are two ways. When a company is very small, it’s perfectly appropriate for founders of those first kind of 5, 10 people to create it themselves. And when I do this work with clients, I have a whole framework to do it. I think that mission, vision, values should first of all be developed to reflect your internal brand, who you are to each other. This can be translated to reflect back out to the market very easily. But the most important thing is to define it for yourselves internally.

Then when you have a larger company, you can co-create. That’s a great opportunity to co-create – values especially – and you can do that through surveys and focus groups and it’s a really interesting balance in that case between being – how do you co-create that mission, vision, values without it being a democracy, right? So that’s an interesting balance.

But then how do you communicate them? I think you do need artifacts. You do need to put posters up on the wall.

Brandon: Yeah.

Victoria: I think the magic thing is – we always have these images of those really cheesy posters of – in conference room walls that say like “Ambition” and someone like sailing a boat or something, right? And they make us cringe. But I think that if, in your company, you’ve gotten together, or your leaders really at the core, believe that ambition is a core value, then every time you look at that poster, you’re like, “Yeah, that’s me! I’m that guy on the boat.”

So I think that as long as the mission, vision, values feel really authentic to you and that you keep telling the story consistently, then that’s how you build a strong internal brand. So it is both the the artifacts and how you talk about them.

Brandon: So how do you talk about it? Do you talk about it in team meetings? Do you restate it over and over? Do you put it in materials out to your employees? What are some ways that HR can sprinkle it in there?

Victoria: So let’s take the example of performance management and you have a value called – let’s take integrity, right?

Brandon: Sure. That’s the one everybody uses.

Victoria: When you’re talking about your performance management framework and we’re going to have these kinds of reviews and we’re going to go about them this way, right? This is how we structure our performance management process. There’s an opportunity in there to explain about how integrity feeds into that. At first, I chose that value because it doesn’t seem super obvious. People think integrity is not just about not stealing stationery. But integrity can also, in that performance management realm, be about the way you hold yourself accountable in doing your self-evaluations, and the way that you approach your own relationship with taking ownership of your performance and of having those conversations with your leader, right?

So you can pick up something like that and look at it from an unexpected angle to reveal another facet that you want to bring out, and you want to bring it through in performance management. And then that totally shifts the conversation, right? You’re not just having a conversation about performance reviews. You’re having a conversation about the way that we go about them and the way we treat ourselves and our colleagues in that process.

Brandon: I love it. Well, this has been a really fun conversation. We could talk forever, I think.

Victoria: Well, I could talk forever.

Brandon: Seriously, it has been a lot of fun and I appreciate the fact that you’ve dropped so many great nuggets and great takeaways for HR practitioners that they could take with them and actually start implementing. Communication is really hard. I’m a marketing guy and I still struggle with it all the time. And it’s all about making sure it’s simple, digestible for your employees, to make sure it sticks. And I think you helped us with that. You helped me with it for sure. What else do you want to talk about? Do you want to talk about your business? What are you up to? Where can people find your work? Anything else that you’re doing.

Victoria: Sure. Yeah. So I have a communications consultancy that’s focused really just on this area and working with small businesses, smaller businesses. You know , it’s funny because many people say, “Oh, what size?” and they want a dollar value, right?

I think of that as being anywhere from sort of about 3 to 300 employees because that’s the size where, first of all, I know that improved communications can make a huge impact on the business. Any larger than about 300 and it does vary by company obviously, that’s the time when they really need to have someone on board fulltime doing employee communications.

But looking, first, at how do you build – you know, if you don’t have mission, vision, values – how do you create those and how do you really start to create that brand from the inside out? Then putting together really practical communications plans and strategies that you can implement to do that communications consistently. We talked about being able to look at all those different initiatives and put consistent communications against them and make sure that that messaging is there. And so I help businesses put together those plans and then of course implement them as needed.

Then there’s always a piece too, just a coaching piece, around the fact that sometimes communications doesn’t come naturally to everyone. And especially with leadership, helping them really build the company and the culture that they’re looking to create. And then my favorite part, the ability to partner with HR to support them in really bringing their culture to life.

I think so many HR practitioners and small businesses feel like they have this really great opportunity, but need a little extra support to really make it sing. And that’s what I get excited about.

My company is based in Boston and I have clients in Los Angeles and I also work virtually with people everywhere. You can find me at please also feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

Brandon: We will definitely make sure to put your links up on our website, on LinkedIn, and in the show notes. Thank you so much for being part of the podcast, Victoria. It has been a lot of fun.

Victoria: Thanks for having me, Brandon. I’m a big fan.

Brandon Laws

As Director of Marketing, Brandon Laws leads all marketing efforts for Xenium, providing oversight on all marketing campaigns, digital marketing strategy, events, sponsorships and public relations. Brandon brings a positive energy to every aspect of his role at Xenium—from internal initiatives around culture and wellness to industry thought leadership through the Xenium podcast and other social efforts. Active within the HR community, he currently volunteers on the board of the Portland Human Resource Management Association as the Director of Marketing & PR.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn 

Submit a Comment