Interview on Essential Techniques for Employee Engagement (Part 4)

Message Maps and the Rationale for the 4 Techniques of Employee Engagement

This is the fourth in a five part series interview with Graeme Ginsberg from London. Graeme is the Managing Editor, Research and Reports for Melcrum – the international research and training company focused on internal communication. I requested the interview go get a better understanding of Melcrum’s research and their current publication: The Practitioner’s Guide, Essential Techniques for Employee Engagement.

I think the technique that many readers may be unfamiliar with is message maps. I believe a message map is a visual communication tool to help individuals tell their organization’s story more effectively. Is that correct? Can you tell us a little more about this.

Message maps help managers capture the core messages of a topic. The topic might be something quite broad and abstract in nature – like where the organization, an initiative or an individual is heading. Or it might be something tangible – for example, an announcement about a product launch or annual conference. Message maps act like blueprints that guide all subsequent communication on the topic – ensuring consistency, whether it’s a CEO speech, an employee newsletter, website copy, a press release, marketing collateral, or whatever.

When it comes to creating the message map after the messaging session, less is definitely more – it’s presenting core and supporting messages so they’re really transparent and accessible. But the message map doesn’t necessarily need to be ‘visual’ in the sense of having arrows and boxes. It’ll depend really on the organizational culture and the topic – the message map could equally be a more traditional page of bulleted text. The Guide gives an example of each type of message map.

Can you tell us why you focused on these particular techniques? What was the background to this Guide?

It was becoming clear to us from our conversations with communication and HR professionals that the discussion around engagement had moved on considerably. Organizations weren’t so much debating what employee engagement means and whether it can drive business performance – they were now telling us that they wanted to know how they could actually achieve it. We had already produced our Employee Engagement report in 2005 – a very comprehensive research report covering the strategic issues around engagement – and we realized that one of our Pracitioner’s Guides would be the best way to provide the hard-hitting “how to” information that they needed for implementation.

We talked to practitioners at our annual employee engagement conferences in the UK, US, Australia and Europe and they told us that they really wanted to understand the techniques for engaging employees, rather than simply getting more information about particular channels. Action teams, Appreciative Inquiry, message maps and storytelling quickly emerged as the techniques most widely used by organizations – and also the ones that people wanted to know most about – so we focused on them.

Part 5 (next post): Conclusion

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