Canadian Telephone Company Enhances Corporate Dialogue with CEO Mailbox

By Barry, Mary Pat | Communication World, July-August 2004 | Go to article overview

Canadian Telephone Company Enhances Corporate Dialogue with CEO Mailbox


Barry, Mary Pat, Communication World


When CEO Darren Entwistle joined TELUS in July 2000, his objective was to transform a western Canadian-based telephone company into a national telecommunications powerhouse. To succeed, the regional monopoly-era telephone business and entitlement culture had to change. Entwistle sought a competitive, high performance, fast-on-its-feet culture in which employees are engaged, informed and active contributors to the success of the business. Effective communication was essential to this transformation effort.

NEED/OPPORTUNITY

In his first week as CEO, Entwistle began sending a weekly electronic letter to employees. In concert with the e-letter, a CEO mailbox was established online, allowing employees to respond to Entwistle after reading the e-letter.

The internal communication team immediately began researching culture change factors, electronic media and the reality of effectively using the medium at TELUS. A 1999 internal communications audit had found that only 58 percent of employees preferred to receive information by e mail. Even after the organization was web-enabled in 2001, TELUS discovered that only 70 percent of employees had direct online access; 15 percent shared a computer and 15 percent had no access.

Before Entwistle came on board, TELUS employees did not have a history of directly communicating with the CEO, which brought up several questions:

* Would employee use of e mail change?

* In time, would dialogue begin to reflect the corporate agenda shift?

* Would the concerns, questions and stories that employees voluntarily shared with the CEO illustrate the cultural shift occurring at TELUS?

To answer these questions, TELUS needed to develop a reliable process for tracking, analyzing and using employees' online correspondence.

INTENDED AUDIENCES

Analysis reports of employee responses were to be shared with Entwistle and the executive vice presidents of human resources, enterprise marketing, business transformation and corporate development. Secondary audiences included the remaining executive leadership team, the vice president of labour relations and the corporate communication community.

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

TELUS's goal was to develop a strategic internal communication management process based on the weekly tracking and reporting of employee issues, as articulated in the voluntary submission of letters to the CEO mailbox.

The objectives included the following:

* Formalize the analysis framework to support valid and reliable employee data collection, and standardize the tracking and reporting process.

* Web-enable the process for archival and knowledge-management purposes.

* Institutionalize the analysis process to make it an essential part of strategic communication at TELUS.

* Use the analysis to demonstrate high-performance strategic communication management.

SOLUTION OVERVIEW

The team developed the tracking system using an Excel spreadsheet, which allowed them to log data and generate weekly graphic summaries illustrating shifts in tone, level of employee engagement and profiles of the issues raised by employees. The reporting, management and display processes were streamlined throughout 2002. The team also created a password-protected web site for the summary analysis report, graphic representations and hot-linked letters from employees.

For reliability and validity, a decision-making tool for tonal assessment of the TELUS culture was developed to standardize interpretations based on three designations:

* positive

* negative

* neutral. …

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