This post is about developing an intranet site to explain what a business division does to employees who have no clue how the division contributes to the company. They might think they do, but when leadership jokes about their lack of knowledge in meetings, they clearly do not.
Explaining Your Business to Employees
Background: I handled internal communications for a supply and trading group in a downstream business for an oil and gas company.
What is supply and trading and what does it do? In short, it gets product to all businesses and markets within both upstream and downstream businesses, as well as being its own mini-trading group, as in trading stock. (They have their own trading floor!)
Now, did that make sense to you?
No? Even after working in this group, it still reads foreign to me. So, what do you think that meant to employees who worked at the same company in other business divisions? I can tell you – not much.
This meant that one of my main tasks in addition to all other responsibilities was to explain this business unit to an entire oil and gas company.
No problem, right?
HA! This was a bit tougher because this global company was HUGE! Not only regarding the number of employees but also that there were a lot of egos to avoid ruffling.
How It Was Done
As I mentioned before, there have been numerous times that talking about sports has helped me form business relationships. This time, I couldn’t rely on football season to cement any relationships. There were too many moving parts. I had to pound the hallways and glue the phone to my ear.
By now, we had social media, videos, and lots of other vehicles that could be used internally. The key was to not get distracted but focus on the goal: explain the business so that everyone understood what it was and what it did. Keep it simple.
I looked at my entire communications toolbox and decided to go with “an oldie but goodie”—the intranet.
I met with the VPs and managers of each business unit to truly understand their functions within the business unit and the company. In addition, I spoke to employees across the globe to understand their roles.
Armed with detailed information and asking questions when unsure a piece was being represented correctly, I worked with my team to create an animated, interactive home page, complete with pop-ups over each business unit that quickly – and simply – explained how it worked within the company.
Before it went live, it was tested extensively. Business employees looked at it cold to see if it made sense and was correct. In addition, it was sent to a test group of non-supply and trading employees to see how they reacted to it.
Taking all feedback in context, the necessary tweaks were made and the launch was finalized; the site went live.
Why It Succeeded
While I could say that the team did a great job and the animation was a hit because it looked cool, the reality is this: the team did a great job and the new site was successful because we took the time to UNDERSTAND what the business was, what it did, how it interacted with the rest of the company, how employees perceived it, and identified how to simply showcase the business in a way anyone could comprehend.
If that hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have been able to succeed.