Category Archives: Communication

Leading a team of volunteers

My Dad was sharing his volunteer leadership experience of over 40 years with me. I asked his advice while we were together at IABC’s World Conference in San Diego this month.  I am entering a new leadership role and welcomed his guidance.

I welcome your experience on creating a great volunteer team. Please share your comments and links at the end of this post.

By Tudor Williams, ABC, MC, IABC Fellow

Some years ago, the leader of a political advance team said to me “How do you fire a volunteer?” As the public affairs and media relations guy on the team, my response is you don’t – especially in the rough and tumble of politics. The key to success is to critically select the team you need from the volunteers available at the outset and recruit from your personal and professional network if talent is not available. If you develop your team with care, you will never need to fire a volunteer.

Recently I was the leader of a team of volunteer business professionals. As I served my apprenticeship on the board of directors and then as a junior member of the executive, I decided that, if I was to successfully lead this organization, I needed to have the right talent in the right places.

Learn the various motivations, skills and talents of your volunteers as you get to know and work with each person. In the year prior to assuming the chief executive role, I self examined my personal vision for the organization and what I felt I could contribute. Then I defined the type of support I would need to accomplish a succession plan for future years and long term success.

First, I recruited my vice chair – the person who best complemented my leadership skills and vision. Together we examined what talents and skills we needed on the executive team. If we were going to achieve our goals and make a significant contribution to the business community, we need the right team. Then we aligned existing talent on the board with what we needed. The search was out for what we did not have.

I sat down with every board member, new and old, individually before we assumed our term of office. We defined aspirations and expectations of each other. I took that feedback and outlined my expectations for each member. It was equally important for me to ask what they would need from me to succeed.

The board entered its term of office sharing the vision, knowing our objectives, and knowing their individual role in determining the outcomes of the year. You want a team of volunteers that enjoys what it does, procures results and delivers high levels of volunteer satisfaction, do you homework early.

You can follow Tudor on Twitter @tudorwilliams

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IABC World Conference San Diego – A view from father and son

I had a great time at IABC’s World Conference in San Diego last week. I have fully engaged myself this year with roles on the IABC board, the Research Foundation and speaking at the Conference. The more I serve with IABC, the more I have received.

I had the opportunity to meet interesting, fun and smart people. Each of their stories and points of view enriched my experience. I live in a multi-cultural city but at conference I was working with people from South Africa, Australia, India, England and even a few Americans. Each person brought a valuable uniqueness to our conversations but also a universal value for people and relationships. Thank you IABC staff and volunteers for another great year.

A copy of my session handout.

Take always:
1.    Think about how you are thinking – Jonah Lehrer
2.    Have a passion for what you do – Deborah Tabart
3.    It is easier to grow a familiar behaviour than start a new one – Dr. BJ Fogg
4.    You can choose to be happy – Dr. Marshall Goldsmith

I asked my Dad to share his very different view of the conference.

The IABC Veteran View – What 30 years will teach you
By Tudor Williams, ABC, MC, Fellow

In the past few years, I have been adjusting my balance of work and networking at conference. I now focus 90% on networking and my working role is diminished to just 10%. I win on all counts here. I get to reconnect with some very old friends and outstanding colleagues. I never fail to come away from every encounter with fresh insights into the evolution of our professional world.

1.    I try to do this while enjoying the delights of the city I am in and San Diego has to rate amongst the best.
2.    I make a point of making new friends and getting to know rising stars in the profession.
3.    I appreciate what is changing in the communicators’ world.

One of the benefits of 30 years in the conference trenches is that I can pretty well accomplish my objectives without my conference badge around my neck. I would describe my experience as a recharge of my creative and professional energy. It is pleasure to be part of the IABC family.

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IABC Gold Quill 2011 Lessons Learned – Change that didn’t hurt

In this past month’s issue of Communication World the focus was on change and the role of the professional communicator. The issue contained sage advice and examples of how to support and/or create change. In the light of judging at IABC’s Blue Ribbon Panel this weekend it was re-enforced to me that effective communication involves change. We seek to change attitudes and behaviours. Outcomes sought by Gold Quill entries this year included more votes, sales, saved lives, and ensuring human dignity.

The best and the brightest in the communication profession shared their work to be evaluated by peers. The entries were insightful, well measured and at times inspirational. Some took change resistant environments and effectively matched communication tactics with a process that ushered in new opportunities and achievements.

Our Leader

Other entries helped me think big and dream about what could be. Some campaigns really did change the world. When the winners are released these entries will inspire us all.

Providing communication platforms and being change agents with good research and hutzpah entrants charted new courses but they did not operate alone. Many of the successful communication campaigns were in partnerships with larger movements and other change agents. By listening to the needs of our audiences and our businesses many participated in movements. Communicators enhanced the positive sentiments while minimizing the barriers to success. Communicators were crucial leaders and implementers that led to great outcomes.

A memorable conversation
Blue Ribbon brings together communicators from around the globe. I find my colleagues challenges and insights invaluable. This weekend, I learned from an American adjusting his style to operate effectively in Hong Kong. His story unearthed some vital principles that will help me be successful in Canada. The conversation left me with some questions to contemplate.

  1. How and when should we adjust our approach to meet the culture we are operating in?
  2. Does the culture we are operating in need to be challenged so we can achieve our goals?
  3. Are we evaluating the positive and negative aspects of our own culture?
  4. How is our culture impacting our communications?
  5. Do we have overarching principles as professional communications that apply across cultures?
  6. Am I, North American centric and believe others should conform to my cultural beliefs?

Asking these questions will enable me to understand the needs of those I interact with and adjust or advocate depending on the situation.

Linking Communications to Leadership
Great conversations and great communication entries reminded me that transformational leadership is not asymmetrical. As communicators we have espoused two-way communication for decades as necessary for positive change. Recently, the topic has moved to three-way communication, where the audience communicates with the change agent and with others in the audience. Steve Crescenzo in this month’s Communication World stated this as a new responsibility for communicators to foster.
Interactive communication acknowledges that for leadership to be sustainable the leader and the led both need to change. With the increased emphasis on dynamic feedback and interaction this becomes more likely. Effective communication and leadership both seek to deepen relationships – relationships impact both parties.
My challenge for professional communicators and myself is to be willing to change as part of the communication process. When my audience shapes me, I am able journey into a deeper relationship. The relationship should grow the influence of all parties involved.

Thank you – IABC
To all the wonderful people and minds that make the Gold Quill experience possible, thank you for engaging in the profession and enabling our community of professionals to learn, grow and transform. This weekend many fun stories were told, collectively we encouraged passion and the food in San Francisco fed my growth.

I hope to see many of you in San Diego in June for IABC`s world conference.

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What is your message?

Tudor Williams, TWI Surveys Inc Associate was interviewed by the Globe and Mail for a business article on February 28, 2011.
They talked about the effective use of social media. Tudor had some great points:

  1. How you communicate builds or takes away from you message
  2. Your business operations have to match your messages
  3. You need to be able to respond where your customers are
  4. Social media is a dialogue – you will pose questions, make statements and respond to what you are hearing
  5. You have to be authentic in your communications

    Tudor and Ryan at a Delta Chamber Event

Globe and Mail article

TUDOR WILLIAMS, ABC, MC, FELLOW
ASSOCIATE, TWI SURVEYS INC.

  • Management consultant, Tudor Williams, ABC, is recognized internationally for his communication research and modeling, change management strategies and strategic communication planning. He has over 30 years of professional wisdom earned in research and communication management.
  • His communication career began with eight years in corporate public affairs management in the energy industry. He has led the Canadian communication practices for two international consulting firms, Towers Perrin and The Alexander Consulting Group (now AON). Tudor has led his own consultancy in Vancouver for the past 15 years.
  • He conducted his first audit as manager of internal communications for Syncrude Canada in 1981. Since then he has become a recognized world leader in communication measurement and the translation of audit data into the development and execution of communication strategy and tactics.
  • In 2004, he and business partner Ryan were recognized by the International Public Relations Institute in New York City with the Golden Ruler Award of Excellence for Measurement in Communication for the research conducted for the Alberta Medical Association.
  • Tudor is an IABC Fellow, the highest honor IABC bestows upon a member. He received the award at IABC’s International Conference in Los Angeles in June 2004.
  • Tudor is the recipient of many national and international awards including six IABC Gold Quills for communication planning and research. He is an Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) and was named a Master Communicator by IABC Canada in 1989.
  • He is a frequent speaker at international conferences including the Conference Board of America and the June 2008 IABC World Conference in New York City.

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SAS Uses the fundamentals and gets great results

Leadership does not have to be complicated. Asking and responding goes a long way to developing a relationship. Relationships are founded on trust and in an environment of trusting relationships people preform better. It creates great business results and a great place to work.

SAS Tops Fortunes List this year – here is how they survey employees

Regan Interview about survey results

From Mat Wilson’s Regan article

Karen Lee, senior manager of internal communications at SAS, said the #1 spot reaffirmed the role of communications in creating a stellar work environment:

“In an  era of social media where communication is critical, transparency within internal communications at SAS reflects the trust our employees have in our leadership and in one another,” said Lee, who was celebrating the selection with team members before dawn on Thursday.

Every year, managers/clients expect a complicated process or survey. The fact is a simple survey that is discussed, turned into action themes and acted upon creates a positive momentum. Surveys are the most scalable and demonstrable activity an organization can do that proves they are listening and that they care. Today, social media can also do this but the advantage of a survey is the legitimacy that the methodology brings to the conversation. Both should be used and likely in combination to enable a dynamic conversation with employees that encourages innovation and creativity.
Employee Survey Process Achieving Leadership Results Ryan Williams Oct 2007 http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf

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Social Media will not replace the need to survey

Those in hungry need for budgets and time to access the thoughts and feelings of stakeholders are increasingly using social media. This is a vast new frontier for researchers. I am excited to participate in the innovation of new methodologies to interpret our findings.Yet, this exciting new area will not achieve what a survey does.

Most of the new processes like Ideation using tools like PollStream give us researchers new data sets. They allow participants to vote and comment. This is useful data but it must be put into context. It is not a survey that had distribution methodology. Surveys can potentially be generalized to the broader populations.  At their foundation these new tools are qualitative in nature and should be used as such.

In corporate communications research qualitative measurement is gold. They give us evidence and inform why people think what they do. The professional practices that communication and human resources professionals alike should resist is reporting these findings back to executives with the indication that they provide a predominance of opinion. Specifically, for engaging and informing employees the survey retains the position as the best tool to inform and track our progress. With more study, social media tools may emerge with some quantitative elements but we are not there yet.

The employee engagement survey best practices in 2010
To fulfill the objectives of the survey and enhance the value of the benchmark data, I construct a theory of business using leader interviews and organizational plans. A theory of business is a model that reflects the circumstances that organizations believe would bring about goal attainment. This theory includes the foundational measures used in the benchmarks that look at a variety of foundational engagement factors (I use the Conference Board of Canada`s 2006 Meta Analysis on Employee Engagement). The next two areas examined are focused around the mandate/values and the strategic priorities specific to your organization. The last section queries the ability of the participants to engage, innovate and inform decisions. The presentation of these elements in more detail can be illustrated with the following typical items in an engagement survey:


Surveys are powerful two-way communications. Anyone conducting an organizational survey should appreciate that the very act of surveying itself influences attitudes (Walters, 2002). The survey communicates what is important to an organization. What is asked and responded to will create a social contract between the organization and employees. The process can tell employees you care about their issues and that you are willing to do something about these issues (Church & Oliver, 2006). From a leadership perspective, the most powerful survey is one that enables a strategic frame and moves away from purely transactional relationships.

The survey sets the limits or boundaries for a creative and innovative discussion around continual improvement. The survey will be constructed to communicate an outcome focus, important values and supporting mechanisms that will enable goal achievement.

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IABC World Conference in Toronto

What a great time with old and new friends at this years IABC World Conference. Some speakers were great, some good and one dud. Free the Children was inspirational and Guy Kawasaki was motivational. I enjoyed engaging colleagues from Tanzania, Poland, South Africa, Brazil and the US. What a bunch of great people. My presentation was well received and I would love to get more feedback. My slides are below. You would have had to been there to hear the story. So as IABC seeks to enhance value, be vital and increase its visibility how do you think the profession will change or should change?

Short version in Prezi

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