There has been a significant shift in the function of internal communications and employee engagement in the last decade. Internal communications is no longer the red-headed step-child of the corporate communications function. It is no longer about checking a box to say your employees are informed and engaged with your mission, without any true visibility or engagement from their leadership.
As society shifted, offering instantaneous curated communications at your fingertips, corporate leaders are charged with shifting their strategy. A new generation of workers were told to choose an employer for more than a paycheck. These two concepts have a significant impact on the types of communications that can be delivered from a corporate entity and what is expected of them.
The intent to engage your employee base will serve as the foundation for employees becoming
informed advocates of what the company stands for, how you are differentiated in your industry, and
what the company contributes to society as a whole. It will also positively shift individual motivation,
loyalty and productivity levels.
Since our inception two years ago, Cheer Partners’ mission has been to transform how employees experience work. This company and its mission were born out of the need to change with the times, and that is what we help clients do. At its core, employee engagement is your internal reputation, which leaders and companies often put less effort into cultivating than their external brand and reputation.
Survey the Landscape
Change the Employee Experience
Measure and Repeat
Employees today want one thing above all else – authenticity in their employer. The culture of an organization is a living, breathing thing, one that needs to be carefully cultivated in everyday communications and bigger organizational initiatives. The only way to move forward and be ahead of the curve in what your employees need and want from you as a leader, and your company as a whole, is to have a consistent, transparent dialogue – so that they feel they are your most important client.
And the truth is, without them, where would you be?
Posted as part of a blog series for Cheer Partners, August 2019
My first year as a mom, a single mother by choice, a mom with a decade more under my belt then most new moms and a working mom with a new job after maternity leave ended. That’s a lot of new titles, new balancing and a new voice, a protective mama-bearness, a patience and efficiency and a deep appreciation for all the moms who have come before me. An even deeper appreciation for those who made it look simple but were probably paddling like mad underneath the surface.
What does that mean to me? It means we need to share more about our struggles, our imperfections, our shortcuts or life hacks. We need to stretch out of our comfort zone of saying “I’m fine” and say, “I’ve been there, what do you need”, “let me help” and sometimes, we need to utter the words most of us often dread saying out loud, “I need help.”
What does that look like:
At work, that looks like choosing an employer whose values align with your own. Personally, that meant choosing an employer who made it clear that people were their priority, especially before they were employees and before they were company advocates. Cheer Partners’ culture is that people come first with holistic lives that need tending to - parent or not. This company empowers employees to share when they need extra support or a PJ Day (day off with minimal notice) because there are days that you can’t bring your whole self to work, and that needs to be OK. As a new leader, I’ve told my team - you don’t have to tell me what is going on, but you need to tell me that something is going on, so I can support you. And as an employee, I am appreciative that my company is open and supportive of our whole lives.
At home, that means finding my support system and to me that doesn’t look like “the village” that parenting articles talk about. In fact, I bet many women feel like a failure for not having acquired a “mom tribe” - on top of everything else. That doesn’t mean I am not surrounded by loving family and friends, but it does mean that they have their own lives, schedules and priorities. If I ask, they are there. I think it’s important to find support in other ways, such as: backup childcare for the backup childcare or as I call it, my roster of sitters, and a handyman, who knows that an hour of his skills, can save me hours in frustration. Sometimes, it giving up control to someone else, but if I prioritize what’s important to me and give up a little control, I gain tenfold in peace of mind.
Instead of saying, “I’m fine,” I actually share my frustrating days and when I receive unsolicited advice, I pause to say, “I really just want to vent, could you just listen.” It also means my remembering that the words “that sucks”, “ugh so sorry” are often more appreciated then “have you tried” or “what I did was” or least remembering to ask first - “do you want to hear what I tried?”
In conclusion, in honor of my second Mother’s Day (my son was born a week before the holiday last year), I want to thank all of those who paved the way with your grace, humor, realism, authenticity and love. It has made this journey easier to know we all go through the same thing … whether we admit it or not.
Posted as part of blog series for Cheer Partners, May 2019
“We love happy hour!” “Meetings, meetings, meetings!” “Everyone here is really nice.” “We have a shared vision that we strive to meet every day with our collective thinking and collaborative work.” “We get to work from home every Friday!” “Our results were the highest ever last year… and now, we need to beat them!”
When a job candidate asks your employees; “What is it like to work here?”, would you want them to answer with any of the above statements?
Companies and teams spend a lot of energy and resources building their cultures, which is an important tool to engage colleagues with and further enhances work productivity and brand loyalty. However, when recruiting and interviewing candidates, the cultural fit may be considered and discussed, but often the team that is interviewing has not even proactively discussed what their culture is nor what a cultural fit means to them.
Each of us knew a manager who determined if someone was a cultural fit by asking about their college sports teams and or local hang-out spots. If the person didn’t know the “right” answers, they weren’t someone that, that manager wanted to spend time with and therefore, wouldn’t get the job.
As you begin to fill out job descriptions and interview questions for your next round of hiring, it’s necessary and important to thoughtfully consider what intangibles make up your team’s culture.
• Discuss with your team what are some of the characteristics exhibited by a manager that they have worked with or wish that they had.
• Think about your management style and describe what brings forth best work and efforts.
• What are some of the expectations you will have of senior leaders to have success in the role.
• Do you believe it’s more important to work fast or get the job done right?
• Does your team encourage the use of the team’s energy and effort, the willingness each person has to be a part of a successful campaign or project?
Once you’ve captured who your team is, it will become infinitely easier to identify what characteristics new team members can bring to the table to round out your team.
Co-Authored with Lisa Fedrizzi, Managing Director, Human Resources Advisory and Talent, Cheer Partners
Posted as part of a blog series for Cheer Partners, April 2019
How many times over the course of your career with various managers and leaders did you think to yourself…“I’ll never do that.” You probably thought this in frustration for many reasons. Perhaps you weren’t given the information you needed to move a project forward or provided the feedback you needed to advance your career or perhaps your manager chronically cancelled meetings with you, as if it wasn’t important to them. On the flip side, you may have had some great experiences with manager’s that made you feel as though your contributions mattered, your voice was heard, and you were a valued member of their team.
Yet, you still grew in your career, and may be at the point of leading a person or a team now. As you dive into the new responsibilities of a new role, you also need to consider the significant task of being a manager to people. Although this type of role can impact people’s careers, few companies lay out their expectations for their people managers or share resources on how to do this effectively.
Therefore, it is up to you to thoughtfully and intentionally set out to be a good people manager. And, you need to do the work to determine what type of people manager you want to be before you step into the new role. That’s right, homework! Why? Because, the first impression you make as a new people manager will be fundamental to the tone you set for your team’s working relationship with you and with each other. You may evolve and grow over time with your team, but your introduction – as with any relationship – will have a big impact.
Catalog your Experiences… Think back to all of the managers and leaders that you have had and consider your retrospective opinion of their role in your professional development, confidence, and industry knowledge.
Set your Intentions… think critically about what type of manager you want to be and then write it down.
Day 1: Introduce Yourself… Even if you are not new to a department or company, people want to know their boss. Most employees want to know what’s in it for them? They know they have to build a relationship with you, but they want to know how to do that fast, well and in a way that will positively impact their work life. Before you walk in to your first day, you need to thoughtfully consider how you will answer the following questions in your first meeting with your team:
Even if you can’t answer all of these in the moment, especially your vision and priorities, start to build trust with your team by letting them know the steps you are going to take to identify these and when you plan on getting back to them with this information. If you are going to want their input, let them know, so they can plan their responses.
Week 1: Actively Listen… Part of these introductory conversations are not just about you, but understanding that they want you to know them too. Ask questions that will help you understand them better and show your interest in who they are. You may also want to consider learning about their background and years of experience in the industry and previous manager relationships, which will help you see each employee as a holistic person and help you determine how you are going to manage the moving forward. Some questions you may want to ask:
Assess the Current Culture: You may have heard from your leadership or predecessor about the team culture, but I would caution you to assess it on your own and through conversations with your team members before you put your own stamp on it.
Unique Situations: Every team and organization is different, therefore you need consider other factors such as how large, layered, what different types of workers and how geographically spread-out your team is – all of these will impact how you introduce yourself throughout the first thirty days.
Sustaining the Momentum: You have laid out publicly who you are, what your leadership style is and how you want your team to work together to reach their business objectives and aspirational goals. You need to create a plan on how you are going to engage your employees throughout the year and what balance of in-person, digital and written communications you will share, at what cadence, what educational curriculum you want to set forth to support them in their professional development and how you want your management to lead with their teams and how you are going to show appreciation for them every day through their obstacles and their successes. Finally, always remember while you should guide and help your team to hone and perfect their skill set, it’s equally and often more important to catch them when they do something right and reinforce the things they should keep doing.
Posted as part of blog series for Cheer Partners, April 2019
Recently, an acquaintance asked Carrie Goldstein what she did for a living. Goldstein explained how she counsels corporate leaders on creating a work culture that improves the employee experience.
“As I explained it to him, his first reaction was: ‘Oh, making people feel good that they have a job?’” recalled Goldstein, Managing Director and Team Leader at the Cheer Partners agency.
She’s heard it all before, of course. Still, it amazes Goldstein that so many people fail to make the direct correlation between happy, motivated employees and positive business outcomes.
“There’s a general perception that this is about patting people on the head and saying, ‘Good job!’” she said. “But here’s the reality: We spend more time on the job that we do with our families. A true employee engagement program can change somebody’s day, and by extension, their entire life. They’re happier and more satisfied. They’re more connected to where they spend the bulk of their week, and that helps the business.”
Before joining Cheer Partners, Goldstein was on the Pfizer communications team, where she oversaw a portfolio of 350 brands. We spoke to Goldstein to learn more about why she believes culture isn’t “soft,” how it can drive increased profits and the role of effective employee communications on creating a great workplace.
How did you come to appreciate why this is so important?
“I had always been in brand marketing communications. Then I had a leader at Pfizer who said, ‘I really want you to see another side of the business and work in internal communications. I had my doubts at first, to be honest. Well, I fell in love with it. You really come to appreciate how when you can change somebody’s day, it can have a ripple effect on their professional development, building and reaching for new goals, and feeling as though they are making an impact. That, in turn, can impact their attitude toward life in general.”
Do companies think they’re paying attention to employee engagement when actually they’re not?
“Absolutely, but the need to engage employees differently is growing. How you do it is shifting. The idea that internal communication is about telling people that they should be happy to work here is a mentality from 20 years ago. Cheer Partners exists to give companies a logical, thoughtful strategy about creating cultural attributes and then constantly infusing them into the day of employees in an authentic way. When you do it right, your best advocate will be your employee. In other words, who is really going to defend your company at Thanksgiving dinner? Your employee will do that if you honor and educate them.”
What does it mean to create an organizational culture?
“There’s the famous story about JFK once asking a janitor at NASA what he did and the man responding: ‘I’m helping put a man on the moon.’ Culture is about having everyone at a company feel that they’re playing an important role in something bigger than themselves. Employees need to realize that culture is about as much them as it the CEO. Culture is embedded in the attitudes and behaviors that are part of the way you conduct business every day. Companies should hire with cultural attributes in mind. When they’re onboarding employees, they should be emphasizing culture and business equally. You want employees to be left with a great impression about the work they do and the company that they represent.
Do you mean like a mission statement?
“Culture is not something you frame on the lobby wall. The mission and vision are important. What’s more important is the company’s purpose statement. But you just can’t say at a company town hall: ‘Our culture is being innovative,’ and then do nothing about it all year long. Whatever you want your culture to be, it needs to saturate everything you do in an authentic way. So, did you launch an innovation center? Did every leader, from the CFO to the CMO, talk about innovation from their perspective – and break down barriers that inhibit innovation? You can’t demand culture. You don’t just declare you have a culture. You have to work to make people feel like their part of creating it and living it every day.”
What are some of the assessments that can help companies identify areas of improvement?
“The most important thing is identifying the gaps in perception between what employees and the leadership believe the culture is. This means conducting a leadership-only focus group to determine what executives believe their culture is and how embedded it is into the day-to-day of employees. We also find out what everyone aspires to be one year from now. Depending on the company’s specific needs, we also assess the employees’ perceptions of the company culture. We will conduct focus groups to dig deeper into specific communication issues such as generational gaps or remote workers. We ask about the types of employee content, the cadence of communications, and the channels being used. Then we compare those responses to the previous six months of internal communications. We’re able to identify where communications may be broken and build a plan to bridge the gaps.”
Why did you join Cheer Partners?
“I love that our team has the opportunity to change people’s day. When you are not engaged at work and feel like what you do isn’t important, it negatively impacts your whole life. Your self-worth shouldn’t be your paycheck or your title. You should feel good about your work and your contributions. Companies that think about how to help employees are seeing the bigger picture. Those are the ones that will win in the end.
So, companies are seeing the value of this?
“Yes, corporate leaders are beginning to understand the significant shift in focusing on the internal customer – your employee. They see there’s value in helping people feel more connected to their work and their peers. They’re emphasizing to employees that they care about them as people and that they’re not just numbers. These are the companies that are increasing employee productivity, loyalty, retention, and advocacy. You can just see a world of difference at the companies that are mastering this.”
Posted as part of a blog series with Cheer Partners and Dynamic Signal, February 2019
Imagine this: You are walking around work feeling pretty good. You feel that your last few meetings and projects went well, you contributed to the discussion and added value to the organization through your role. All in all, a decent week.
And then, you see an executive you know in the hallway and he says, “I want to share some feedback with you, stop by my desk later.” And your stomach sinks. You think about those meetings and projects again. Did you speak too much? Have too much of an opinion? Miss a deadline? You stop by his office, he’s not there. Give it another 30 minutes, stop by again. Not there. This one sentence is ruining your productivity. You are just going over projects and nervously inventing excuses to swing by his office one more time. And then finally at the end of the day, you catch him. You try to be casual, as if this simple touch base hasn’t been the focus of your day. The good thing is, you are ready. You are ready for feedback.
You are ready to do all the things you hear you should do when receiving feedback. You will actively listen, not just listen to respond, and you will not react impulsively. You know your response shouldn’t be defensive, and if you need to process the bad news that is inevitably going to be shared with you, then you should ask if you can meet again in a few days. You have braced yourself.
This is what happened to me, and then I had the most pleasant surprise. The leader says, “I wanted to tell you that you always have a positive attitude, always a smile on your face, and it is so refreshing!” Wait, what? I think I responded thank you, but in that moment, I was stunned into silence. I left his office overwhelmed, but also with the biggest smile on my face. My day had completely changed.
That is why I remind my team and my colleagues frequently that feedback often has a negative connotation when it can, in fact, be positive. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, feedback is defined as, “the transmission of evaluative or corrective information about an action, event, or process to the original or controlling source.” Evaluative or corrective, not only corrective. Providing feedback is not an opportunity to criticize, which is what it has become known for. Feedback should be an evaluation of both the positive and negative aspects of a work product or work style.
In order to change that perception and help colleagues become better versions of themselves, it is important to remind yourself to think of a piece of positive feedback for every negative one. Sometimes, that can be a challenge, but consider the impact on my day, attitude and productivity in being told that a business leader had feedback to share with me. Then, consider the effect of his positive feedback. And, considering that day happened more than four years ago and still brings a smile to my face, imagine the impact that positive feedback has on my attitude every day.
Posted as part of blog series for Cheer Partners, February 2019
Crains: Carrie Goldstein Joins Cheer Partners to Lead Practice
Carrie Goldstein to lead Employee Communications Practice at Cheer Partners, a leading Talent and Employee Engagement agency, joining from Pfizer where she was a Communications Director. Goldstein will lead the internal communications, diversity and inclusion team and client work for the agency.
Cheer Partners Triples Client Base And Leadership Team Since Launching
NEW YORK, Oct. 24, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Cheer Partners, a leading Talent, HR Advisory and Employee Communications Agency, has tripled in size since its 2017. This growth underscores the priority organizations are placing on aligning talent and employee engagement to support the innovation that the future workplace will demand. To meet the growing demand for services, Cheer Partners has made several strategic hires: Carrie Goldstein, Carol Ready and Lisa Fedrizzi.
Carrie Goldstein, Managing Director and Team Lead, Employee Communications"Our mission is to help our clients create a truly personalized employee experience that generates a sense of belonging," said Cat Graham, Managing Partner. "Our expertise drives competitive advantage by supporting a culture of inclusion and unifying the employee and customer experiences."
Cheer Partners welcomes Carrie Goldstein as Managing Director and Team Lead, Employee Communications. Before joining Cheer Partners, Carrie Goldstein was a Communications Director at Pfizer. Goldstein says, "The mission of Cheer Partners resonates with my passion for ensuring that organizations have an opportunity to drive progress from within by focusing on communications with their most important advocates: their employees." In this role, Carrie will lead a team that provides clients with strategies to set a strong foundation for their internal narrative, culture and colleague engagement.
Carol Ready joins from Edelman as Senior Director, Communications and is embedded within a Cheer Partners' global healthcare client. "The opportunity to lead high-profile initiatives, working in partnership with our clients as a trusted advisor is incomparable," said Ready.
Lisa Fedrizzi joins as Senior Talent Lead and brings more than 12 years' experience in Human Resources and Talent Acquisition, and was most recently at Rubenstein Public Relations. She now oversees Cheer Partners' talent strategy and HR-focused client communications. "I am excited for the opportunity to be a part of the Cheer Partners' success story," said Fedrizzi. "I am eager to combine my expertise with their vibrant approach to Talent Acquisition and Human Resources Advisory."
"We are pleased to have such outstanding additions to our team. They bring tremendous experience, knowledge and commitment to us, our customers and our client-centric mission," says Darcie Peck, Managing Partner.
About Cheer Partners
Cheer Partners was founded in 2017 to drive competitive advantage for clients from the inside out. Through Talent, Human Resources Advisory, Communications, Culture and Inclusion, Cheer Partners cultivates innovative employee experiences for organizations. Cheer Partners' core values include honesty, integrity, transparency, diversity, inclusion and gratitude. Cheer Partners fosters an inclusive, diverse and remote workplace while promoting a connected culture.
SOURCE Cheer Partners