Have you ever been in a teleconference and it dawns on you that you haven’t listened to a damn thing in the last five, maybe 30 minutes? You know that feeling when all of a sudden your brain is desperately scrambling for any semblance of sense from within the drone at the other end, dropping in the occasional ‘mmm, yes’ and praying to the almighty not to be asked for an opinion?
No, of course not. Me neither. But to those that do find the tired model of teleconference meetings gratingly one-sided to the point of counterproductive, do read on.
These days it’s all about webjamming. No, of course not. Me neither.
In fact I’d not heard the term until a TV researcher got in touch this week asking me about it, so I figured I should probably get some scope. Turns out it’s actually a pretty nifty way of keeping your employees engaged and running more interactive internal communications.
I also found a sole authority on the subject – one Gerard Richardson, SABMiller’s Digital Collaboration Lead – who’s written extensively on the subject on his blog thenetworked.org.
His first piece of advice: get that buy-in. You might like your webjam, but as with all things modern and ‘let’s get social, man’, getting other people to like your webjam too is half the battle. So let’s break down what it means and how you use it.
It’s actually a pretty nifty way of keeping your employees engaged
What is a webjam?
It’s a webinar, basically. Or a webchat. Or like a Google+ Hangout. You know, before people unilaterally stopped hanging out on Google+.
A webjam leverages any social network or platform that you use, in this case for internal communications.
But a webjam is an enhanced webinar; it’s interactive. The clue’s in the name – it’s a jam, in the musician’s sense of the word as opposed to something to do with toast.
The idea is to encourage a roundtable discussion, actively encourage participation by getting colleagues to invite colleagues, so everyone’s involved if they want to be, and posing the webjam as a chance for employees not just to have their say, but to be just as invested as you are in the company’s internal strategies.
A webjam is an enhanced webinar
What makes a webjam different to a teleconference?
As the manager of the webjam, the difference is you. A teleconference meeting is positioned so the manager can talk at people. In a webjam that model is turned on its head; the manager is simply the chairman and moderator. Your job is to set the agenda, design a conversation plan that’s actually conversational – it’s all about getting input from as many sources as possible, and specifically not you – to encourage participation, make sure everyone’s enjoying themselves, inject energy and enthusiasm and round things up if necessary.
Gerard Richardson says that your role is essentially that of a party host – you’re supposed to find a place where everyone can meet, send invites in good time, to mingle on the day, to encourage conversations and connections that couldn’t have otherwise happened.
You also need to identify your wingmen – people that are already invested in your webjam that can do your job alongside you, pushing more flowing conversations.
How is this a revolution?
You might say at this point is that this is how any worthwhile teleconference meeting should actually play out, that there’s nothing massively revolutionary here. And I’d have to agree.
But going back to Richardson’s original point, it’s not so much changing the model or coming up with a cool new name that’s the problem; it’s getting the buy-in and changing perceptions. It’s about getting every stakeholder on board with a new way of looking at, and achieving things.
As a content marketing agency that specialises in the subject, we know first hand that employee engagement and internal communications strategies these days are changing fast and are absolutely key to forming progressive companies.
Get employees personally invested in the company
Employees – both prospective and current – are now more discerning than ever about their jobs and career aspirations. Skills gaps are opening and closing all over the shop and one company’s loss is another’s considerable gain.
Employee retention and an active feedback loop for your internal comms are of paramount importance to creating the internal ambassadors for your company – those people that enjoy working for you and aren’t shy about saying it. The first step to that is to ensure they’re not shy about saying anything work-related – to get them personally invested in the company.
Ask yourself this – when you hold a teleconference meeting do you feel you’ve achieved your goals? Can you definitely say that your message has been disseminated such that there’s no doubt in your mind it’s been heard, appreciated and its instructions taken on board?
If so, great, keep calm and carry on. If not, maybe it’s time to loosen up your internal comms strategy a bit; you know, have a jam, man. Mmmm, yes.