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


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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,700 times in 2010. That’s about 6 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 13 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 36 posts. There were 34 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 7mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was March 22nd with 55 views. The most popular post that day was IABC Gold Quill Blue Ribbon Panel 2010.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for happy people, people happy, team charter, happy people pictures, and employee engagement.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


IABC Gold Quill Blue Ribbon Panel 2010 March 2010


Does aiming for employee happiness undermine engagement? May 2009


Employee engagement in economic downturns February 2009


Being an effective leader – Fair does not need to be equal December 2009
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About February 2009

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Why the effort is always worth it – changed lives

Today was a proud moment. The VC Nation placed the AAA BC Football Championship banner in the rafters of the school. This past week has seen hundreds of alumni reach back to the school and share how the program has shaped them and their teammates. As a coach for the past 11 years and an alumni (94), the last week has affirmed what I long believed, the young men who play football at Vancouver College leave better men. To affirm this and to learn about our trans-formative community read Jon Conlin’s (03) speech from the banner raising  ceremony. To the young men from this years team, you made us all very proud!

My name is Jonathan Conlin, and I graduated from Vancouver College in 2003. I was a five year man on the football team and captained the 2002 Varsity squad to a championship game, only to fall short on the scoreboard. I have a passion for this program that has never wavered, even in the face of many heartbreaking losses in the years that followed. It is with great pride and honour that I am able to address the team, the coaching staff, and our faith and learning community after such a meaningful win.

First, to Coach Bernett and his staff. As I was walking out of Empire Field on Saturday night, basking in the glow of celebration, I felt compelled to impress upon you how proud your past players are of the team this year and all they have accomplished.

While the result was finally what we all hoped it would be, the one common observation from past years was how well the men carried themselves – on and off the field. The maturity, poise, and dominance which characterized their performance will never be forgotten, and the integrity found in our victory was a direct result of your influence on the players and the virtues that you instil through coaching.

The context of today’s story would be lost if I did not pause to recognize how painful it was for many of us to come so close to the glory that today’s team enjoys. Until Saturday, time had not assuaged the disappointment of so many finals losses. However, now that I have the hindsight of some years as an active member of our Alumni, I would like to share with you something else that time has revealed.

You will be celebrated for this win, and this season, and rightly so. You turned a group of young players into a team of champions, and showed this school and this community the very best of itself, a testament to the heights that can be reached with commitment and sacrifice.

But the true mark of your impact has never been measured exclusively, or even primarily, in wins and losses. The unparalleled passion and dedication which you have infused into this program teaches life lessons far outside the boundaries of O’Hagan Field. Your impact is seen in the accomplishments of our graduates, no matter how diverse – in the university and college students, in those involved in charitable and faith-based initiatives, in those entering the workforce, and in the Grey Cup rings and Olympic dreams.

VC challenges us to “leave here as better men”. You have been one of the most important parts of that development for me, and for so many whose voices I channel in this address. In that way, every year you have attained the highest success in your coaching and teaching careers.

On behalf of the alumni of both this football program and this school, we thank you. Not only for the gift you have given us of shared championship glory, but also for the gifts you have given us through your guidance, friendship and teaching. We will hold both very dearly for a lifetime.

To the men of the 2010 BC High School Football Champion Fighting Irish, on behalf of the many generations of VC players and alumni, we thank you as well. I hope you could feel our support as you took the field last Saturday, as we were with you every step of the way, whether that was from the stands, or watching on tv or the internet thousands of miles away. For so many of us whose football experience at VC was missing this crowning achievement, we share in your victory as a community united. Since our last championship football banner was lifted, we have all experienced challenges from opponents far outside the realm of athletics. But as you did on Saturday, we overcame great obstacles to emerge victorious. Your win is fitting testament to the resiliency of this entire community.

By now you have experienced no shortage of people telling you how important this win is to them. Why? Each alumnus who could’ve filled my place on this podium might give you a slightly different answer, but there are common themes. To understand why is to realize….

THAT when you attend this school and walk these halls, you are not simply transacting with an institution for a high school diploma, but are part of a movement much bigger than any one person or any one year – united by the memories of our common progression in academic, artistic, spiritual and athletic endeavours, arriving here as boys, but leaving here as men, in the mould of Blessed Edmund Rice.

THAT when you wear the Purple and Gold and represent this school, you are ambassadors for a fraternity of past players who enrich this program with their collective support and emotion. We believe this is due to the many special things about Fighting Irish Football. It is special that brothers and cousins, fathers and sons and uncles and nephews share in the experience of playing football for VC. It is special that so many former players return from colleges and universities to help coach the next generation. It is special, too, that mothers and sisters and grandmothers and aunts care and work tirelessly, year after year, to make the program something to be proud of. And, it is special that the Bernett family, Rick Gazzola, Bruce Jagger, Dr. Koss, the assistant coaches, and countless others choose to devote days, nights, weekends and summers to helping make the players and the program better.

THAT our past losses were difficult to bear, and we carried the pain of not having a banner each and every year to do justice to our commitment and pride. BUT those losses do not define us. Rather, they form only one part of our collective experience, intensifying our unity and affirming our commitment to the support of future years. Because we know that for every past loss we endured, there are memories of Archbishops’ Cups, team meetings, road trips, days in the bunker, film sessions and final reps on squats – each of which enriching our lives and ensuring a lifelong connection to the men that we bled beside on the fields of battle.

AND THAT, when the clock finally reached zero and you hoisted that trophy that has for so long eluded us – you were also lifting the spirits of an entire VC Nation that has been waiting so patiently for the time when we could stand in unison as champions and rejoice out of the undeniable sensation that at that moment, one of the highest in this school’s history, we were all one in victory – past, present and future.

It is in the echo of these words that I turn to the future of VC football. You all inherit a program at an apex of accomplishment. Grab hold of this momentum. Feel this pride. Use it to write your own story in our shared book. And know that no matter how your seasons end, we as Alumni will be there, and will, as always, be forever faithful.

Happy Day Oh Happy Day

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Reaching for the goal and having the team to get you there

This is my 11th year coaching high school football and this upcoming weekend will be the seventh time to the provincial championship game. I have yet to coach a team that has won that last game. Over the years, we have had some special teams and accomplished many goals. This year we are collectively reaching for the championship again. Win or loose our boys have been successful in preparation and character. This is a great group of young men and below is a short powerpoint from our prayer service before last Saturday`s game.

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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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Building Effective Consulting Practices – Leveraging team while maintaining the benefits of unique approaches

Like all good leadership, good consulting starts by being a great listener. All assignments start with a discovery phase where we learn about our client’s business, the people involved and the nature of the problem that we will address. This process may be intuitive and discussion oriented. The discovery may lead to more discovery and adjusted plans.

This discovery process is most effective when a systematic approach is intentionally used. The credibility of a tested and tried approach assures the client of professionalism and comfort of past results achieved.

As a consultant, we have a methodology to approach each unique challenge. We balance our questions with diverse probing. With my partners we use the Tekara Integrated Model to build our understanding of the root cause of the problems. We then design our processes with an evidence based approach.

Tekara Integrated Model

This process lends itself to qualitative methods. It involves client meetings, interviews and focus groups. Our interview protocols are unique to each consultant. They are influenced by the integrated model. The result of the listening has produced effective processes and happy clients. The limitation is the shared knowledge across consultant practices and the ability to explore continuous improvements to improve our collective practice.

Qualitative processes are effective when all the stakeholders for the engagement can be involved. They also provide good indicator information to understand the root cause of the problems being addressed. The limitation is the ability to scale the process across an organization or across a diverse group of stakeholders.
Quantitative processes are more scalable. The most scalable involvement tactic in an organizational context is a survey. Surveys provide a predominance of opinion and can be used as bench mark measures to compare pre and post assignment successes.

Social media tools are now offering new opportunities; however, social media data does not have tested and validated methodologies. This does not enable generalizing results back to the larger population. As a result, the counts and comments must still be viewed as qualitative data. With good context, still valuable but limited in terms of interpretation.

As a team, the survey can speak to what we value and enable a consistent set of organizational diagnostic tools. Over time we can refine our processes and compare our results.

The cost is clear. To become more consistent with our approach, while maintaining unique solutions, we have to become  more similar and then allow the situation to create the leadership intervention.

For this process to be useful, it must create new opportunities and improve client results.

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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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