How To Explain Your Business To Employees

rigI recently published posts on internal communications, including one on building a successful intranet site.

This post is about developing an intranet site to explain what a business division does to employees who have no clue how your division contributes to the company. They might think they do, but it was easy to see that they didn’t when leadership joked about it in their meetings.

I handled internal communications for what was once called the Global Supply and Trading (GS&T) group in a downstream business.

What is GS&T and what does it do? In short, GS&T 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? What do you think that meant to employees who worked at the same company in other business divisions? I can tell you that it meant the same thing to them – not much.

Which meant that one of my main tasks in addition to all other responsibilities was to explain GS&T to an entire oil & gas company.

No problem, right?

HA! This was a bit tougher because this global company is HUGE! Not only regarding the number of employees but also that there were a lot of egos to avoid ruffling.

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 GS&T and the company. In addition, I spoke to employees across the globe to understand their roles.

ProfilewireframeArmed 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 explained how it worked within the company.

Then, I tested it. I sat down with the business employees and did two things: 1) Had them look at it cold to see if it made sense and was correct and 2) Sent it to a test group of non-GS&T employees to see how they reacted to it.

Taking all feedback in context, the necessary tweaks were made and the launch was made final.

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 would comprehend.

If that hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t have been able to succeed.

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Susan Cellura is a marketing communications professional with over 20 years of experience. She is a dynamic communications professional and enthusiastic team-builder, with a progressive history of success in designing and implementing communications programs for global organizations. A strategic thinker with the ability to understand the needs of multiple audiences and deliver solutions, Susan is a results-oriented problem-solver with exceptional interpersonal and negotiation abilities. Having worked in a variety of global industries, she has grown business communications in her current position via a strong mixture of strategic resources, including social media.

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