Video Case Study: The Importance of Leadership Communications

The Importance of Leadership Communications
TransferGo

The Importance of Leadership Communications

This is the transcription of the second episode of Between Us, a video series focused on tactical ideas by internal comms leaders, for internal comms leaders. Watch the full video interview here.

In this episode, Elif Ergisi, Executive Assistant to the CEO at TransferGo, shares the specific initiatives, tools, and strategies her team uses to build a strong culture of leadership communications. With a focus on:

  • Establishing and measuring internal comms OKRs.

  • How to use video, audio, charts, and written updates to have the greatest impact on employees.

  • Inspiring a culture of curiosity through an intentional cadence of communication.

  • Making it easy for company leaders to regularly share updates.

Elif Ergisi

Elif Ergisi is the Executive Assistant to the CEO of TransferGo. Elif lives in London and helps manage internal communications across 200+ employees living in Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Turkey, and the UK.

Rachel Kaplowitz is the Founder/CEO of Honey, a reimagination of the corporate intranet, designed to help employees feel inspired, informed, and engaged at work.


RK: Leadership comms is always an important part of company culture, but even more so now that we’re working remotely. I’ve been really impressed with how your team has been handling leadership comms — especially the regularity of communications, representation from different departments, and the quality of the information you’ve been spotlighting.

Can you tell everyone a little more about your News Hub Group on Honey and the kind of information you’ve been sharing regularly?

EE: At TransferGo, we have six offices and, obviously, keeping everyone informed and aligned is always a tricky process. With covid coming into play, we went from six offices to 200 offices overnight. That meant that we needed solid communication from our leadership constantly.

Honey has helped our leadership team by being the platform we can rely on as our single source of truth. It’s great to have one designated tool that our employees can trust — they know that if something’s on Honey, it must be true.

Our leadership team had to communicate more than ever before. Our News Hub consolidated a lot of information we were sharing on Slack channels, replaced our internal newsletter, and streamlined emails that would constantly be coming out from our leadership team.

It’s become the place where not just our leadership shares communication, but basically all of our Transfernauts go on an ongoing basis to see what’s happening at the company.

We created guidelines and rules and that really set the tone for Honey and how we use it.

Communications guidelines

In addition to all of the different communications tools we have in place, we have monthly town halls, product updates, team updates, smaller project updates, and extracurricular stuff that people want to keep their members informed about. We use Honey to distribute and archive all of these updates.

RK: I’m always happy to hear about how Honey is helping deliver this kind of value — it’s why we do what we do! But, I think what our audience is going to be really interested in hearing about is the kind of stuff you’re actually putting into the platform. All of the different kind of updates — I actually have some of them written down here because there is so much quality content:

  • Strategic and vision setting updates from your CEO

  • Weekly metrics from your Growth Team

  • Monthly newsletters from your People Team

  • Security & best practices from your Head of Security

  • Company all hands videos

  • Written retrospectives from projects like your recent brand redesign process

It’s incredible! 

These are the things that people are ambitious about. They think, “Ok, great we have a platform now we’re going to start doing all this stuff…” 

But there’s a huge leap from having a tool to actually having the process.

I’m curious how long has this stuff been part of your communications culture? How do you convince these incredibly busy people to actually do this?

EE: It wasn’t easy and it’s still a work in progress, but our vision was always very clear. We always wanted to have an intranet that was our single source of truth.

Change is never straightforward or easy. There was some pushback that we overcame by holding 1:1 meetings, group discussions, and having a step-by-step project plan in place, starting by gathering the most essential information first.

Once we got all the core information from each department, that enabled us to create a Group for each team that became home to important uploads, files, docs, and essential information that employees must know to do their jobs.

Once that was done, each member was able to sign on and easily see where their information was stored and was curious to see what other teams were doing and working on. Everything happened organically.

I definitely can see that Honey has improved our two-way communication, which has been part of our OKRs since our initial implementation.

Now we see that our Transfernauts share their posts on Honey without needing a push. And I’m always amazed with the quality of the content. I feel proud.

RK: I think you touched on a lot of really interesting things in there.

That word ‘curiosity’. I think that’s the magic everyone is looking for. Nobody is going to go to a platform that just has a bunch of static documents. There’s no urge to get them there. But the way that you’ve structured your leadership communications — so visual and so templated. For example, when your weekly metrics go out, you know exactly what to expect and how to find the information you’re looking for. So people start to anticipate it and that curiosity becomes a very authentic part of that process, which is really amazing and I think a lot of teams can learn from.

Do you think that having that regularly scheduled content leads to that higher engagement?

EE:

I definitely agree. I’d say that a lot of team members depend on the work that’s shared there. For example, anything the Growth Team shares will be used as part of our Board Member packs. Everything we need is put onto Honey and then other team members can easily find what they need, when they need it.

RK: I think one thing that people are going to really resonate with is the idea of setting an OKR around internal communications. People struggle a lot with how to quantify something like internal comms and to show improvement. Can you share a little more about how you identified your OKRs and how you are tracking them across the company?

EE: We have a few OKRs around internal communications. Honey plays a central part in the measurement for all of them. The way Honey has helped us measure success has been through the built-in analytics tool you have in the backend of Honey. That allows us to see who’s logging in, where we’re having more traction, and what types of posts people are looking for.

RK: Ok switching gears a little bit, I want to ask you a question about one of these great culture initiatives you have at your company called Transfernauts of the Month. Can you tell me a little bit about these interview series?

EE: Employee recognition is an important initiative for our People Team. Our people are very important to us — I’m sure all great organizations realize that the people culture is everything. We wanted to recognize the important work that our Transfernauts do in an objective way.

So, every month we hold nominations that run company-wide. Everyone is voting towards one value or one behavior. We dig quite deep. Once those nominations are in, our culture ambassadors get together on Zoom and they select the Transfernaut of the Month.

Transfernaut of the month

We make a big deal of it. Once they do win, they get the spotlight. We make such a big deal that it goes on our LinkedIn and all of our social media — but, it’s always shared on Honey first.

It helps us understand what our people do and how they impact the TransferGo product overall. It’s also been lovely to see how hard work is really being recognized at our company. 

RK: I love that. I think right now especially we’re all looking for authentic connections. We’re spending so much time in front of the screens — anything we can do to make it feel like we’re actually in person. 

That’s why I think it’s really amazing that you’re doing that series. I’m sure that your team is really enjoying it. On our team we do what we call Employee User Manuals. We actually just write up a little bio of ourselves, how we like to work, what environments make us productive, what environments make us distracted. It helps us get to know each other a little more. Any of those kinds of moments where people can share who they really are and connect with each other is really wonderful.

EE: We do something similar called GoShare. (TranferGoShare). It’s literally a 15 minute slot to talk about anything but work — it could be about your hobbies, something that you studied, or any particular interest that you have. It helps us get to know our team members a bit better — their interests and their way of thinking. That’s in a video format and we share those videos on Honey.

RK: You’ve talked so much about video, it’s obviously a core part of your internal comms strategy. People don’t really have patience to read through a longform update anymore. It makes sense in those weekly metrics reports where you want to look at actual graphs and see where things are in numbers, but when you’re delivering things about your strategy… or vision… or just being a human, video is so powerful. Is this something people on your team across the board feel comfortable with? Or do you feel like people are still adopting video as a new channel?

EE: I think we’ve got quite a few people using it as their method of sharing information. It seems to be more of company all hands information, like Town Halls, or company-wide events.

For now, it’s something that the People Team has pushed so people can access information later on. We are considering using podcasts as well, which is something I know that Honey supports.

RK: I think it all goes back to your curiosity statement. As you create more and more content from the People Team and people get curious and start expecting these more interesting updates, you’ll see videos and podcasts appear in other areas of the company as well. 

Video is such an amazing tool right now, not just for people who are isolated and not in the office anymore. It’s also an incredible archive for your team. For all future hires to be able to go back and watch standout all hands recordings or updates from leadership — that’s a super powerful way to get to know the culture and history of a company at any given moment of time.

RK: Thank you so much for sharing so many of these great, tactical ideas. I think that’s what people are craving right now — hearing the actual initiatives people are doing, how they’ve done them, the struggles they’ve had with them, and the successes, obviously, are the most exciting part. This brings us to the last question of our interview. 

There have been so many challenges over the last couple of months of 2020. We had to really think fast on our feet and adapt a lot of plans that were meant for the office to our new virtual environments. But there’s been a lot of changes that may be good. So, I’m curious, from your perspective, do you have a silver lining? Do you see something that’s changed in the way that we’re working that you hope persists beyond the pandemic?

EE: Definitely. I think we’ve become oversharers during the pandemic period, which can only improve our internal communication. It has enabled us to take more initiative on an individual level as well. We’re still improving, it’s still a work in progress, but we’re trying and we do hope that it can only get better and that we continue reimagining how we use our communication channels.

RK: Well, from the sidelines, you guys are doing a phenomenal job. It’s really inspiring to watch your team grow, watch you innovate around process, and bring to life the ideas you were dreaming about coming into this process.

Thank you so much for being here today. It’s always a pleasure catching up with you. I really love that we got to spend some time talking through some of the things I’ve been hearing about over the years. I think the people listening today are going to love it.