Leadership is only as strong as its first recruit. When a company launches something new – whether it be a CRM system, a proposal process or a growth initiative, the success of that program will be wholly dependent on how well and how fast the individuals of the organization adopt it as their own. Internal communication is a critical component of every firm. We interviewed one firm that developed an internal communications campaign that would re-engage employees and help build more camaraderie by reminding them why they loved their career and the firm that let them live their passion well.
In the fall of last year, Courtney Kiss, Marketing Director at Johnson Lambert found herself face to face with an issue that had been percolating beneath the surface for a little too long. With geographically diverse locations, Johnson Lambert was experiencing some growing pains and did not feel as cohesive as leadership knew it could. This realization became an opportunity to understand how the various offices and practices could come together to better understand what we do, why we do it, and to share some of the passion people have for their clients, building the firm, and most importantly, creating an environment of learning and professional growth.
Courtney approached this issue with a question: With the accounting profession experiencing so many changes, what would it take to get staff more engaged, increase cross-selling and cross-serving, and develop their consulting practice? Breaking down silos between offices would not only help Johnson Lambert in their goal of encouraging their staff to reach across service aisles to better serve their clients, it would also promote their brand and bolster unity between locations.
After some months of mulling over her ideas, Courtney gathered her marketing team, developed a plan and talked about it with her partner group and Managing Partner. What she walked away with was an internal communications campaign called, Focused Purpose.
Courtney kicked off the campaign with an internal survey. “We asked everyone what engagements and projects they liked being a part of, what they loved about the firm and what they loved about their career. To our delight, we got an 85% response rate.” The team got to work compiling quotes from their internal survey and the first Focused Purpose communication was scheduled to roll out. “We made a conscious effort to launch the campaign during busy season. We wanted to remind our people why they love Johnson Lambert during a time when everyone was typically the most stressed out,” said Courtney.
The campaign launched with an email designed to pique interest. The message featured the image of one of their Virginia partners along with the following quote, “I believe that your job is only as enjoyable as the people you work with. It is rewarding to have the chance to teach each other, to watch our team learn, and to be part of developing careers and interests.” A few days later, the marketing team sent another email, this time explaining the Focused Purpose campaign and asking for staff submissions of stories and testimonials around work flexibility, access to upper management, organizational culture, JL expertise, growth and their people. “We see a need to bring people together in order to develop our current and future leaders. A core belief of Johnson Lambert is that our employees are so important. We could say the same thing to them, but we knew it would be more impactful to hear messaging from their peers,” said Courtney. “The feedback has been great so far; people from different service areas and across offices are getting together to choose their best stories – it’s been a fun distraction during busy season, and everyone wants to be involved.”
Courtney thought it would be a simple thing to gather feedback and share stories. “But then I started thinking about what opportunities this process could turn up. I underestimated the life the project could take on, or the impact it could have. In an effort to bring people together and stay ahead of the changes that are happening in the industry, we created space for a rallying moment.”
Courtney is excited about how this campaign will shape future communications, training and knowledge sharing. The hope is to leverage this experience to support the proposal process, recruiting communications, internal education and developing thought leaders.
During busy season, Johnson Lambert has accomplished firm-wide reinvigoration with a campaign that sought to remind people why they love what they do. Their holistic philosophy around the people they hire and the clients they serve is making a difference. When a team invests together, it just works better. This campaign is laying the groundwork for present and future success, one story at a time.