EuroComm18 Interviews: Aniisu K Verghese on “trust, involve and get out of the way” of employee communications

The question of how to engage employees in organizational communications has proved tough to answer for many communicators, particularly in the era of social media. One of our speakers will be sharing his experiences and answers on how to create employees who aren’t only engaged but also want to amplify the organization’s brand story.

Aniisu K Verghese, Senior Manager – Corporate Communications & CSR at Tesco Bengaluru, is travelling all the way from India to join us at EuroComm18 and talk about how to help encourage an authentic employee voice through his presentation, entitled “Trust, involve and get out of the way.”

We spoke with Aniisu and asked him more about his presentation at EuroComm18. To learn more about the agenda and book your tickets, visit our EuroComm18 event page.

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself Aniisu?

Aniisu: I lead corporate communications and corporate social responsibility for Tesco in Bengaluru, India. Tesco is one of the world’s largest retailers; it is the largest in the UK. I manage the communications for the technology and retail center we have here in India. I work closely with the leadership team and stakeholders to help Tesco be an employer of choice and connect my colleagues to our purpose. Outside of work, I’m passionate about communications, and I’ve been blogging since 2006. I also run workshops for the industry here. I’m looking forward to speaking at EuroComm18. I will be talking about how we can empower employees to be more involved, and how we can ensure that organizations are more successful in communicating. I’m a big fan of getting my colleagues to be our brand ambassadors, and a great way for them to contribute to the organization is through them communicating with their networks. That is what I’ll be focusing on.

Q: The title of your presentation is, “trust, involve and get out of the way.” Can you explain what you mean by this?

Aniisu: Around the world we’re seeing an erosion of trust in organizations; many businesses are unable to engage their workforce. There’s a shift towards individualism and people wanting to be their own personal brands. Unless organizations can get employees on their side and trust in management, then there’s no chance that employees will be able to contribute and add value to the organization. The first step in changing this dynamic is earning employee trust, and being transparent and open in terms of how you go about your operations. The next step is to give employees clear guidance on how they can get involved. Every engaged employee wants to be involved in how organizations meet and communicate their purpose. Giving that clear perspective, that guidance on how they can add value to your story is key. Once you do that, you need to give them the autonomy to be able to communicate themselves, and that’s where trust plays a big role.

Q: But aren’t communicators perceived to be controlling the message? So how can we shift away from this?

Aniisu: That’s the traditional view, of controlling and not letting employees participate in how communications are done. This approach isn’t working any more, especially in a social media age. We need to go back to the issue of trust. If you trust employees, then you must let them do what they think is right for the business. No one joins an organization to hurt the organization. While we need to continue owning the narrative, we must learn to let go of the way employees go out and deliver the message.

Q: What do you want attendees who come to your session to leave with in terms of learnings?

Aniisu: There are three key takeaways. The first is we need employees to become partners in how we communicate. It’s not us versus them, and we need to involve them in a transparent, authentic manner. The second is we must mean what we say. Our actions need to align with our words over a sustained period of time, so that employees trust us and get involved. Finally, we must listen, take in employee views and encouraging good citizenship behaviors which is really all about going above and beyond. Everyone has their roles and responsibilities aligned in terms of their day jobs, but when organizations recognize good citizenship that’s when we see a jump in organizational engagement.

Q: What are you looking forward to at EuroComm18?

Aniisu: I’ve never been to Copenhagen, and so I’m excited about this trip. I’ve spoken in Australia, in Singapore and Hong Kong, and I’m looking forward to learning as well from my fellow speakers as well as from discussions with attendees. I’m an active participant of IABC, and I’ve been a board member. I’m looking forward to engaging with everyone at the event.

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