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    Q & A with Anthony Martini: Employee Communication

    By Caroline Martin, PRSA Colorado Communications Committee

     

    About Anthony
    Anthony has a degree in Journalism from the University of Colorado - Boulder. After graduating, Anthony began working for local news stations, eventually making his way to DIRECTV, and now AT&T. He has worked in several employee communications roles over the years and is well versed in effective company communication.  

    What is your goal with employee communications?

    My goal with employee communications is to make sure that my audience, the front-line retail reps, know everything they need to about a customer before they actually need to know it. When it comes to offers, new products and promotions, our reps and agents need to know about it before it becomes public. Once public, customers coming knocking and want to know more about the offer, new product or promo. If the frontline does not know about it, they are at a disadvantage.

    What are some things that make that goal difficult to meet and how do you maneuver that?

    There are a couple of factors that can make my goal difficult to meet. One is how spread out our population of employees is. We have over 100,000 employees and partners across the U.S. and the world. Connecting with everyone in different time and date zones can be a real challenge.

    Another factor is generational issues because we have such a wide array. We have younger employees who are just out of high school and college, as well as people with significant tenure. Between this wide generational population, everyone has different ways of processing information.

    The best way we combat these challenges is by hitting them with a multi-pronged system called the Knowledge Management System. This is a text-intensive and video communication system to give them all the information they need. Employees can read the content, watch the content as a video, and it allows the user to communicate through the system.

    This system also allows our employees to create threads for questions or issues. An employee can comment and then the article owner or subject expert is able to put the answers into the same thread, which helps find problems or allows us to provide more information and clarification to our employees.

    What, in your opinion, is the most difficult aspect of employee communications?

    Definitely generational gaps and getting things to consumers in a timely manner. Serving clients quickly, which is extremely advantageous for the company, and how to get information to the front line as quickly as possible is always a challenge, but our Knowledge Management System makes that much easier.

    Why do you think diversity and inclusiveness are important in the workplace?

    If you have diverse thoughts brought to the table when communicating in business, it helps bring diverse solutions. People of different backgrounds bring in different perspectives, which is extremely important. Our audiences are too broad to have limited options and solutions, so we need more perspectives and thoughts at the table. I think having our diversity and inclusion training helps us bring more diversity within our company at every level.

    How do employee communications and diversity and inclusiveness work together in a company?

    Employee communications and diversity and inclusiveness work hand in hand. Without diverse opinions, thoughts and people, you are failing your population.

    What is some advice you would give to someone who wants to implement some of this within their own company?

    My advice would be, even at the senior level, get out from behind your desk and talk to people. You will not know what diversity you have in your organization if you are not talking to people. I always schedule one-on-one meetings with my direct reports, but it is also important when working with lower levels and higher levels every few months.

    You can start a conversation with people in your organization by getting to know them on a personal level. I always like to know what makes people tick outside of their 9-5 jobs and offer that same thing back. Commonalities help you open up and help others open up to you. It also allows for difficult conversations to be more open and accepted.

    What resources do you use to include diversity and inclusiveness in your employee communications?

    At AT&T, we have a learning portal called TU - AT&T University. Employees at our company also attend annual diversity training. Additionally, we use LinkedIn learning (previously Lynda), for their trainings.

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