Mike Klein, founder of #WeLeadComms and senior strategic advisor for Sparrow Connected interviews Dionne Ligoure, a 25-year corporate communications and head of corporate communications at Caribbean Airlines with a keen interest in entrepreneurship.
Listen to the interview on the ICON Podcast here.
Mike: Dionne, what do you see as the three biggest opportunities facing the communication world at this point in time?
Dionne: The biggest opportunity for practitioners right now is leveraging communications tools, such as those related to engagement, measuring engagement, and properly segmenting and targeting all communication bases.
Virtual workspaces provide us with flexibility and the ability to collaborate globally, without restrictions of movement or costs associated with it. There is an opportunity for communicators to leverage technology tools in order to have a greater measure of control over their message.
Mike: You mentioned leveraging communication tools, virtual workspaces and global collaboration. What are some of the biggest opportunities that communicators face today when it comes to these?
Dionne: The biggest opportunities that communicators face today when it comes to leveraging communication tools, virtual workspaces, and global collaboration are the ability to engage with stakeholders more quickly and easily, the ability to expand the reach of messages and content through segmenting and targeting, and finally, the opportunity for global collaboration that virtual workspaces allow.
The key to leveraging the employee workforce is to create a structured framework with guidelines that allow employees to be brand advocates in an organized way. This structure ensures that the company’s message is conveyed in a consistent and meaningful way, while still allowing employees to be authentic in their communication.
By creating this structure, companies will benefit from the natural enthusiasm of their employees and use it to create an even greater impact for their external stakeholders.
Mike: How is the airline industry different from other industries?
Dionne: The airline industry is unique in that employees tend to have a natural passion and enthusiasm for the industry, which can be harnessed to create a strong foundation for advocacy.
The airline industry has subject-matter experts in lesser-known but critical areas that can be used to filter information in a structured way, so that employees are not faced with the onslaught of hard-hitting questions from the media.
Mike: How do you see reaching deskless workers as an area of opportunity?
Dionne: It is an area of tremendous opportunity. The airline industry, by virtue of its regulated and structured environment, provides us with a wonderful platform from which we can build and use as a guide and blueprint for other industries. We have special apps that can be used for the cabin crew, electronic screens and boards, as well as internal email groups to specifically target deskless workers. Utilizing technology tools helps to reach this workforce.
Mike: If you had a magic wand, which of your day-to-day challenges would you make go away?
Dionne: With a magic wand, I would want to facilitate and enable a deeper understanding of the role of corporate communications. I would also want to see a greater application of critical thinking, so that we can move beyond surface level understanding and get to the root of an issue.
Mike: How can organizations overcome the gap between what they communicate outwardly and what employees experience internally?
Dionne: To bridge the gap between what is communicated externally and experienced internally, organizations need to create a culture of transparency. This involves having clear expectations from both sides; by openly discussing their mission, vision and values, and ensuring that there is a commitment to uphold them.
Organizations need to ensure that the internal messages they broadcast to employees are consistent with their external messaging. This will foster an environment of trust and understanding between employers and employees and help create a cohesive culture within the organization.
Mike: So hard actions instead of empty words are cheap optics is what you're saying basically?
Dionne: Correct, because hard actions where the pain of employment is utilized, you would find in the medium to longer term would be far more effective than the plaster of optics.
Mike: What is the one piece of advice you would give to internal communications professionals looking to grow their careers?
Dionne: My advice would be to lean on the Pareto principle (80% planning, 20% execution) and have clear goals in mind when developing your career. It is important to look for mentors, stay abreast of activities in your industry and actively seek out opportunities both within and outside of your current field.
Mike: What kind of surveys do you use to inform the leadership about employee engagement and organizational challenges?
Dionne: We use structured surveys to address the organization's specific challenges and pain points. Coming out of this survey, an entire reward and recognition program is now in place—an employee program, where one of the references is cheers for peers. So, you put structure into persons valuing and appreciating each other. This normalizes recognition and appreciation for employees who do good work.
Mike: What do you believe the future of communication looks like?
The future of communication is leaders sitting alongside CFOs and CMOs. This can be achieved through utilizing virtual workspaces to encourage and grow global collaboration, and working to demonstrate clear and tangible contributions to the success of an organization.
It is the view of the CEO of Sparrow Connected, communication leaders should be sitting alongside CEOs, CFOs and CMOs to be most successful.