EP 21: Communication that Drives Results with Matthew Kovnesky

Communication that Drives Results

Great communication gets the message out and connects the dots for your employees. Leaders have to be great communicators to inspire and motivate those they lead to ensure the best results possible. To help us dive into this topic further is Matthew Kovnesky, Employee Health and Benefits Consultant for Marsh & McLennan. In this episode, he will explain the importance of understanding how your employees want to be communicated to and how to ensure your employees feel heard.

Listen in as we discuss how to drive the results that you’re looking to drive and how to decipher the overarching story you’re trying to tell your employees. You will learn how to build trust with your employees so they never question their value in the company. Having conversations, even if they are hard conversations, is always a better option than leaving your employees in the dark.

What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode:

  • How to build trust with your employees. (1:52)
  • The importance of understanding how your employees like to be communicated to. (3:29)
  • How to effectively drive results. (9:00)

Actionable Takeaway for HR Professionals:

  • Make sure your plan isn’t bigger than what you can actually achieve. (15:59)

Actionable Takeaway for Executives:

  • Company culture and communication is very important, so learn to effectively communicate with your team. (15:14)

Ideas Worth Sharing:

“Really knowing how they want to be communicated to is really key to any of the communication programs.” - Matthew Kovnesky Click To Tweet “How can we adjust our plan to help you as the employees?” - Matthew Kovnesky Click To Tweet “We need to establish really clear goals.” - @TraciLScherck Click To Tweet

Resources In Today’s Episode:

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Click Here for Audio Transcript

Traci Scherck: Communication that drives results, what exactly is that and so often what we find in the human resources world and when we’re really optimizing our talent, is that there is.

Traci Scherck: A loss of translation in our messages so with me today I have Matthew Kovnesky and Matthew is with us from marsh and mclennan and he’s a.

Traci Scherck: Benefits advisor and one of the key reasons that you know Matthew and I have talked about so many times is.

Traci Scherck: The horror stories, with benefits and if you’re an HR professional listening or an executive listening, you know that the cost drivers associated with benefits is ridiculous and.

Traci Scherck: Specifically, how we communicate those to our employees have a huge impact on that employee retention and employee engagement so Matthew welcome.

Matthew Kovnesky: hi, thank you for having me on.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely so you know, one of the things when we talk about communication is.

Traci Scherck: You know, building trust with those individuals that we’re communicating with and when you think about how you support it organizations specifically rolling out benefit plans, how do you build trust with them.

Matthew Kovnesky: Well, I think the biggest thing is coming down to understanding and knowing your employees, because.

Matthew Kovnesky: It doesn’t matter, you could have the best workplace or the best benefit package possible in the world, but if your internal audience your employees aren’t perceiving it that way it doesn’t matter so it’s.

Matthew Kovnesky: Really coming down to having that communication that focus plan in place to go out and say hey this is.

Matthew Kovnesky: Why you as an employee means so much to us, and this is why we want you here into our family, instead of being somewhere else, where the benefits, maybe a little bit less the pain might be a little bit more, and just.

Matthew Kovnesky: Not having them know the understandings of what all it goes into for them to be a part of the family.

Traci Scherck: Absolutely, and one of the things you mentioned is really kind of knowing that audience that you’re talking to, and you know we chatted a little bit earlier about you know riding yamacats here in Wisconsin and Michigan and the winter and whatnot.

Traci Scherck: But really understanding, who is our employee audience, you know, is there a family involved in that what specifically are those.

Traci Scherck: kind of other things that are really important to the to those individuals and how do we have those conversations, because so often.

Traci Scherck: You know our communication with staff is lost in the translation and so often staff and us ourselves don’t always know what questions to ask, so how.

Traci Scherck: You know how do you kind of work with that hey how do I get to know my audience and be how do we ensure that once we get to know our audience that we’re leaving enough opportunity in safety for questions to really understand.

Matthew Kovnesky: And I think it’s a critical one to be looking at now because, with so many different generations in the workforce.

Matthew Kovnesky: How I want to have information related to me it’s going to be completely different than you it’s going to be completely different than the business owner versus.

Matthew Kovnesky: You know, someone just graduating and coming into the workforce from high school or college and.

Matthew Kovnesky: One of the biggest things that I stress, with is making sure that you know those points, how do they want to be communicated to and it’s.

Matthew Kovnesky: Doing simple things that we all think of that we should be doing, but we never have the time to get to it’s always put on the back burner so.

Matthew Kovnesky: One of the things that I always do for my clients and say hey let’s go ahead and survey the entire employees.

Matthew Kovnesky: let’s see what ways they want to have communication do they want it via text message you know if I talked to a couple of my cousins or my nephews.

Matthew Kovnesky: don’t call them don’t email send a text message you know the key most important things do they want videos do they want to have.

Matthew Kovnesky: zoom meetings do they want to have interactive of employee meetings do they just want a piece of paper that they can take home to their significant other and just say hey check off on this or not so.

Matthew Kovnesky: really knowing how they want to be communicated to is key to any of the communication programs that we put in place, then moving forward for my clients and.

Matthew Kovnesky: Really, the opportunity there is what helps build out that program because what we look for is what’s important to them, you know we send out a seven question survey of.

Matthew Kovnesky: Asking simple things of what’s the best way to talk to you, are you the key decision maker, I guess, you could say in the household to go ahead and make these or do you want to have your significant other looped in some of these emails and communications, because one of my clients.

Matthew Kovnesky: half their population their spouses make the decision, because the other half the population they’re on the road driving their trucks.

Matthew Kovnesky: So it’s really having that understanding of what’s important to them what’s going to go ahead and be the most impactful mode of transfer of communication to them.

Matthew Kovnesky: So they can go ahead and then say this is what we know, this is what we hear this is how we’re going to impact them and then.

Matthew Kovnesky: Really wanting the employees to make sure that they know that their voices being heard so.

Matthew Kovnesky: asking them, what do you like about your benefits package what don’t you like about it, what do you wish, you had if you’re coming from somewhere else, what did you see there, how can we better adjust our plans to focus on your us helping us the employees.

Traci Scherck: yeah absolutely and I think that that communication and most of our listeners.

Traci Scherck: utilize predictive index or are interested in predictive index, and one of the key things with predictive index Is it actually tells us.

Traci Scherck: How employees need to want to be communicated with right are they going to think through issues, or are they going to talk through items.

Traci Scherck: You know so really kind of taking those two things together is really helpful to understanding how we can best serve, but it also shows hey.

Traci Scherck: Do we need to do some things in video do we need to do them live in person sans coven do he needs to.

Traci Scherck: write a memo but i’m going to put a caution, I hear about memos so when this podcast is being recorded it’s a week or so after the situation with base camp, did you hear about that one Matthew.

Matthew Kovnesky: No, I haven’t.

Traci Scherck: So the base camp city, I know right so base camp situation is essentially a CEO sent out a memo to his staff specifically about diversity equity and inclusion issues and essentially said hey if you don’t.

Traci Scherck: If you don’t agree with what we’re doing here, you can take a buyout so versus having conversations and getting into what’s happening.

Traci Scherck: You know that type of communication, a memo from the CEO wasn’t necessarily driving the results that they were looking to drive.

Traci Scherck: And I bring up the situation, one because it’s real time it’s hitting us, you know right now we’re still in the middle of a number of different items happening.

Traci Scherck: And it’s so important that we really think about what is the impact with the way that i’m communicating with my staff.

Traci Scherck: Is it going to have the key results that i’m looking to get in and is there other modes I love, how you said transportation earlier is or other modes of transportation within that communication to actually get to those key results.

Matthew Kovnesky: And I think a lot of it, especially I know i’m gonna have to go back in and read up on this a little bit more, but it sounds like you know the CEO had a potentially good intention on what he was going to say but.

Matthew Kovnesky: I don’t think it was clearly communicated that well and when you’re looking at all the different ways of going ahead and.

Matthew Kovnesky: Trying to communicate effectively to all your employees, you have to make sure that whatever you’re saying is going to tie back to the bigger picture and making sure that what i’m about to say.

Matthew Kovnesky: Are the employees, going to interpret it the way that I want it to be interpreted and how you go about doing that, whether it’s coming directly from you or.

Matthew Kovnesky: working through you know middle management or having someone like human resource director in that room saying hey wait a Min I understand what you’re saying.

Matthew Kovnesky: But we can’t save them that way because it’s going to be taken in the wrong context, we have to position and a habit said this way so it’s hitting the employees in the proper ways is key to that.

Traci Scherck: yeah absolutely so really establishing those clear goals as to what are we trying to accomplish with with those business objectives.

Traci Scherck: And so, if we you know put this in our benefits context, if we put it in a diversity equity and inclusion contacts if we put it in a hiring context right.

Traci Scherck: Like the context doesn’t necessarily matter, but what is that key goal that we’re trying to get to so i’m curious, how do you, you know how do you do that, and you know, do you have an example where you’ve gotten some really effective results and what did that look like.

Matthew Kovnesky: yeah, so I think what has happened, the last year is that Covid has really put.

Matthew Kovnesky: In front of everybody, really, how do we make sure as a company that we’re doing what’s best and what’s right for our employees and for the company.

Matthew Kovnesky: I had a client that just was having an extremely hard time relaying that information everybody that was within the organization was very fearful of.

Matthew Kovnesky: Covid pandemic hearing orders are going down, you know, am I going to lose my job how’s this going to impact me, you know mentally financially.

Matthew Kovnesky: You know how do I know that the company isn’t just going to do what they need to do to stay afloat and part of what we ended up coming in and doing.

Matthew Kovnesky: myself and my team was just saying what is that overarching story that you want the message that you want to go ahead.

Matthew Kovnesky: and tell your employees, you want them to know that.

Matthew Kovnesky: Everything that’s being done, whether it’s doing a furlough or you know potentially doing a little bit of a pay decrease it’s in their best interest we don’t want to let anybody within our family they refer to every single employee as a family member.

Matthew Kovnesky: We don’t want any family members to leave we don’t want anybody to go ahead and think otherwise, because we know those negative thoughts that come in that perception of.

Matthew Kovnesky: going ahead and losing your job potentially an impact in your family that impacts your work performance so productivity goes down and.

Matthew Kovnesky: One of the things that we did was we just surveyed and we actually held little focus groups with key.

Matthew Kovnesky: We call them key family members in their organization that really were kind of the the people that other people, listen to it they’re the ones that were the.

Matthew Kovnesky: You know, people are going to jump up at the top of a mountain top and scream out loud how great it is are all bad it is.

Matthew Kovnesky: And we got to understanding what was going on from their viewpoint and really what’s going on from the employees and what we were able to do is we built a messaging a strategy for them that.

Matthew Kovnesky: kind of took everything holistically of what’s going on the organization what’s going on in the marketplace.

Matthew Kovnesky: You know, we tried to put on our wishful thinking and say hey, this is what the next 12 months is going to look like.

Matthew Kovnesky: But here’s how we’re going to communicate to the employees to ensure that.

Matthew Kovnesky: They know from top down leadership is on board with keeping everybody here nobody’s going to be gone no one’s going to be leaving and no one’s going to be fired or furloughed during these tough times and.

Matthew Kovnesky: We ended up doing a wide variety of different modes of communication to them, so we did send out.

Matthew Kovnesky: email blasts to all the employees every three weeks, they got an email kind of like a here’s a company summary or an accompany update from the CEO and the President and.

Matthew Kovnesky: We worked with them on the messaging campaign, I was going to happen, we did videos.

Matthew Kovnesky: You know, so we ended up doing benefit videos for them to talk through their benefits of why an EAP program is something that is an amazing.

Matthew Kovnesky: benefit to have, especially during these times because maybe you don’t want to go out and have a hard conversation with a significant other but you’ll talk to a stranger over over the phone and you like notice, she was doing that.

Matthew Kovnesky: On the we we went through and started really explaining things and those videos actually have been sent out on a monthly basis on key topics yeah.

Matthew Kovnesky: We went ahead and did virtual meetings we did a ver on zoom meetings in person, seminars.

Matthew Kovnesky: We actually built out an entire calendar for the entire remaining of last year and into this year of what every week that communication touch point is going to be in how it’s going to be impactful and.

Matthew Kovnesky: One of the the biggest results from it, as we saw that they had a they were having some turnover issues, but they lowered their turnover by 7% while their employee.

Matthew Kovnesky: Experience and satisfaction increase over 33% on just making sure that they knew what was going on what’s the state of the company and knowing that you know the company was really they’re backing them really helped drive results on it.

Traci Scherck: And those are some significant numbers, especially when we look at the current hiring market that we’re in.

Traci Scherck: One of the things that you mentioned that I absolutely love it was you kind of brought up and said hey you know I won’t talk to your spouse about this, but i’ll talk to a stranger about it.

Traci Scherck: You know, one of the kind of jokes that I have with my husband is hey guess what if you don’t tell me what’s going on, it means I made it up, and when I make it up it’s probably a whole lot worse than you just talking to right.

Traci Scherck: And so, so often it’s the same thing with our staff right like let’s just have the conversation, and if it’s all hard conversation it’s a thought that it’s a hard conversation it’s really not we’re just talking about the facts right.

Traci Scherck: But you know, having those conversations is really going to let everybody know where they’re at because when we make it up in our head we kind of make up these horror stories.

Traci Scherck: are so much worse than what actuality is so thank you so much for sharing that and sharing the specific numbers behind it.

Traci Scherck: because those are some you know those are some great numbers, especially as we’re looking at how do we engage and retain our staff, because we know that it impacts productivity and profitability inside of our organizations.

Traci Scherck: So you know, and I just want to kind of quickly recap, you know those some of the three key areas that you shared was one hey, we need to ensure we know our audience when we’re communicating.

Traci Scherck: To, we need to ensure that we’re establishing really clear goals and what is that specific outcome that we’re getting two.

Traci Scherck: And three that were utilizing multiple channels of communication based on the demographics, of the individual, so thank you so much for sharing those key things throughout our conversation today.

Traci Scherck: And every conversation with you know what’s one key actionable takeaway for our executive listeners so i’m so curious from your experience working with both HR and executives what’s that key takeaway.

Matthew Kovnesky: I would say, for for this, you know the executives that are listening, one of the biggest takeaways is how you’re engaging with your employees.

Matthew Kovnesky: really can make or break the culture internally in the organization and what the word of mouth does on the outside and.

Matthew Kovnesky: Company culture and the employee communication is more important now than it’s ever been.

Matthew Kovnesky: And if you have a plan in place really give HR the full support that they need to execute on that plan don’t try to hold them back because it has a direct impact on turnover employee engagement and your internal external branding.

Traci Scherck: awesome Thank you so much for that and now let’s flip it for a second so what’s one key takeaway for HR listeners.

Matthew Kovnesky: If you if you have a plan that set in place.

Matthew Kovnesky: Make sure that you don’t try to bite off more than you can chew make sure there’s executable milestones that when you’re sitting down with the executive team you’re saying this is the plan that we have in place.

Matthew Kovnesky: here’s where we’re at and achieving those and here are the results from them, it sets you up more for success and it’s going to work out better than trying to take everything off all at once and.

Matthew Kovnesky: Only executing half of it, a quarter of it and typically from what i’ve seen experience when you do, that the results just aren’t there and it’s harder to continue having that seat at the table.

Traci Scherck: awesome Thank you so much for that, and with that, and you know as we kind of close out on our.

Traci Scherck: episode on communication that drives results if you’re looking to connect with Matthew you can find him on linkedin or.

Traci Scherck: You can find out more about Marsh and Mclennen and in both of those will specifically be in the show notes.

Traci Scherck: So thanks so much for listening and if you’re interested and office hours with our Traci Scherck team or our webinars that happened twice a month.

Traci Scherck: Where we actually dig a bit deeper into each of these topics some really specific how tos and actually some of those roadmaps, how do we create a communication roadmap for employees, please check out our talent optimization foundation program have a great rest of your day.

Matthew Kovnesky: Thank you.