It is vital to cultivate a culture that enables teams to understand and engage with each other to encourage productivity and information flow. That task just became a great deal more challenging with the exponential growth in remote work.
When teams don’t connect, the danger is that there is a tendency to silo; that is where information is held within teams. Businesses are very aware of the cost of silos. Silos reduce efficiency in the enterprise; they can impact morale and erode the company culture. Silos arise from many underlying causes, but a common factor is that there simply are not sufficient opportunities for teams to interact and become familiar with each other.
Podbean connected with Vimal Parker, Marketing Manager with Slalom’s Global Marketing team and the orchestrator of Slalom’s internal podcast – Slalom On Air. We wanted to know about how Slalom tackles the tricky issue of connecting global teams. We learned how Slalom implemented podcasting into their organization and cultivated a vibrant culture around their company’s podcast.
Vimal had many internal communication tools available to tap to increase intra- and inter-team engagement, so why was it that Slalom chose podcasting?
Vimal presented a familiar picture to John Kieran Podbean’s Head of Marketing. She described Slalom as a highly-successful enterprise in its growth phase. Not only were existing teams getting larger, but they were also becoming more scattered as Slalom began its expansion across the globe. Podcasting represented an intimate way to connect individuals who may otherwise have very little contact time.
One of the key wins that Slalom gained from using the medium was for onboarding new employees. By presenting new hires with a curated selection of episodes, they were able to quickly engage with the company culture and familiarize themselves with key players and best-practice methodologies in the organization.
Slalom’s approach to podcasting is to create categories or channels of stories to suit the various audiences. For example, the account leads present "Wins to Know" to highlight success stories of partnerships with their clients and how those were cultivated. The Leadership Series hosts podcasts from management to communicate the company strategy. Slalom is dedicated to inclusion and diversity, and so that philosophy is supported by the channel "Raising our Voice".
Slalom has a storytelling team that identifies individuals with great stories to tell. They support employees through the process. This includes a pre-interview to establish the framework for the story and drafting of the questions that the interviewee should expect. And finally, the team works to make the interviewee feel comfortable and ready to discuss their ideas in the novel setting of the recording room.
Vimal’s team sees promoting the podcast as an integral component of creating it. There is no use to a podcast that sits unlistened to after all! Especially in the early days, Slalom’s approach was to treat their podcast as a strand of their brand and commit time and energy to promote the app and create a listening habit across the global team.
When the storytelling team identifies the next potential story, they align this with the audience segment to whom the story must be promoted. Promotion takes multiple forms, such as email alerts and mentions within meetings. One of the lessons that Slalom’s storytelling team have learned is that one person forwarding the link to another is one of the most effective marketing mechanisms; another reminder that people listen to people!
Slalom uses podcasting as the primary mechanism to share stories across the business. One of the massive advantages is that this can happen while people are not in front of their computers. Moving is good for people! By providing a medium that can be consumed on the go and at the listener’s convenience, Slalom has seen excellent consumption rates of their podcasts.
In her interview, Vimal quoted the truism that is often attributed to Francis Bacon "Knowledge is Power". By leveraging podcasting, Slalom has developed an effective knowledge-sharing tool, accelerated connections between disparate teams, assisted new employees to feel grounded, and created a valuable form of institutional memory to ensure that best practices are shared. Slalom has taken significant steps to ensure that they don’t grow beyond their own interconnections.
We asked Vimal if she had any advice for our listeners and readers, whether there was anything folk needed to get started (apart from a smartphone and a set of headphones, that is). Vimal says: "Have a clear mission". Now that is great advice for any business proposition! Create your KPIs, know what success looks like because that way, you know where you are headed and whether you succeeded in your aims.
Slalom has been highly successful thanks to their commitment to keeping their teams connected, however far apart they are geographically. How have you used podcasting within your business? Does Slalom’s story resonate with yours?