This issue of Communication Command contains an interview about Human Reources Consulting and Strategic Communication, as well as an article entitled Crisis Management: Social Media Primer. We hope you will enjoy our e-Newsletter.

July / August
IABC Global Vice Chair
C4CS® Senior Partner Dianne Chase has been elected as IABC Global Vice Chair for 2015 / 2016. She began her term on IABC's International Executive Board in June and will take over as IABC's Global Chair in mid 2016. The corresponding IABC news release can be accessed via this link. The photo above shows the members of IABC's International Executive Board, with Dianne pictured second from left.

Free Consultation
Please contact C4CS® at in regard to a free consultation concerning your organization's strategic communication and crisis management needs.
WCDM Workshop
In June, C4CS® Managing Partner Oliver S. Schmidt conducted a workshop on Effective Risk Communication in Times of Crisis at the 25th World Conference on Disaster Management #WCDMgives. Conference attendeees from countries including Canada, England, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, and the USA participated in the session. This was Oliver's fourth workshop at a WCDM. He had previously presented on Effective Employee Communication in Times of Crisis, Effective Media Management in Times of Crisis, and Effective Use of Social Media in Times of Crisis.
IABC/Pittsburgh President
C4CS® Senior Consultant Mark Toth began his term as President of the Pittsburgh chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) on July 1, 2015. The corresponding IABC/Pittsburgh news release is available via the following link.
Communication Command e-Newsletter
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Five Questions about Human Resources Consulting and Strategic Communication

Alisa Collins is President of COMPASS Business Solutions, Inc., which provides a range of human resources and strategic business consulting services.
Alisa Collins

What is Compass Business Solutions and how did you become President?

At Compass, we drive organizational performance with proven human resources and business strategies. We determine the uniqueness of each client and build solutions that combine best practices with the needs of the client. No matter what the industry or company size, we have the experience and talent to address any aspect of the employee life cycle. We deliver our solutions either as HR OnCall, our outsourced human resources solution, or through a project-based proposal.

I was in an executive role in corporate America and followed my entrepreneurial spirit. Cheryl Bean, my business partner, and I created Compass about a dozen years ago. Our clients range from start-up organizations with just a few employees to companies with 50,000 employees in diverse industries such as professional sports, healthcare, manufacturing, technology, energy, education, and non-profits.

With such a diverse client base, do you see any problems in common, including the area of employee communications?

Yes. Whether our clients have one employee or 10,000, there are employee relations, professional development and compliance issues consistently across the board.
Employees are our greatest resource and our greatest expense. Regardless of company size, it is critical to effectively recruit, develop and retain a qualified and diverse workforce. Beyond hiring the best team, knowing how to communicate with employees is the key to smooth operations and avoiding problems.
Too often companies are hesitant to put things in writing. Formally communicating policies and expectations helps avoid employee relations and compliance issues. Transparent operations may seem like a trendy term, but the more consistent and open leaders are with their teams, the better equipped employees are to do their jobs and contribute to the company’s success. Tools such as employee manuals, written procedures and company core values are crucial.

How do you avoid employee relations nightmares?

Hire slow and fire fast is what we try to instill in our clients. Having the right team members in your organization to drive your strategy requires considerable thought and a systematic recruitment process.
It all starts with the job description. Think about purchasing a laptop. You know the price you want to pay for the memory, screen size, battery life, weight, look and feel of the product. Yet, most of our clients do not identify the specifications they need when entering the marketplace for talent. 

A strong job description defines the necessary requirements to fulfill the position. It also identifies the essential functions and physical requirements for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and determines exempt or nonexempt status under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Implementing screening techniques that tie directly to the job description ensures consistent and fair candidate evaluations. Pre-determined interview scripts that incorporate behavior-based and situational questions with the preferred answers provide a clear path to the best employees. 
Finally, properly onboarding a new employee is as important as selecting that employee.  Onboarding is not just handing a new employee a laptop and business cards. It is an inclusive, ongoing process that provides technical training, sets performance expectations, and enfolds new employees within the company’s culture. Understanding a company’s code of conduct and social media policy helps avoid as many problems as learning how to safely operate a piece of equipment.

You mentioned firing fast. How does that work?

Letting someone go is hard. If you were on the other side of the desk, how would you want to be treated? That is our starting point: treating the employee with respect while protecting company assets.
Performance management systems are crucial, but they are useless if our leaders do not have the skill sets to coach their employees to strong performance. Our employees are not telepathic so it is our job to ensure that they clearly understand our core values and performance expectations. Recognizing accomplishments and reinforcing desired behaviors is paramount to enhancing performance. Likewise, providing constructive or corrective developmental feedback is critical and should not be avoided.
If an employee has been coached and cannot perform to our expectations, or has attitude issues they are unwilling to adjust, then we must document what we have done to support his or her success and then transition him or her out of the organization immediately.
We have all heard horror stories of firings gone bad. Letting someone go should always include safety considerations for all employees and a crisis management plan that covers “what if” scenarios. Use checklists to collect company property and protect against technology breaches or loss of proprietary information. Implement a communication plan to ensure continued relationships with external stakeholders such as clients and key partners. Compass works in partnership with C4CS®, a leader in strategic communication and crisis management, to help in these challenging situations.

Many companies feel their hands are tied with employees because of all the legal and compliance considerations. What should we do?

No one should feel their hands are tied if they are doing the right thing for the right reasons. That being said, I do not do my own taxes because I do not know what I do not know. HR compliance is very similar. Once you have your first employee, you have compliance issues. Key practice areas include:
  • HR Compliance Issues
  • Salary Administration
  • Employee Manual and Policies
  • Staffing Practices
  • Orientation Practices
  • Performance Management System
  • Training and Development
  • Employee Relations and Communications
  • Record Keeping and Retention Practices
  • Benefit Plan Designs and Administration
If you have not looked at your process in the last two years, we recommend that you conduct a review and determine an HR plan to fix any potential areas of liability. Compass uses a stop light approach in our audits. Green is good; keep going. Yellow is a caution; let us get to this soon. Red is a compliance issue; stop and fix it now.

Crisis Management: Social Media Primer
C4CS® has assisted companies across various industries concerning social media crisis preparedness and crisis response work. Our client partners understand that no company can afford to ignore what is said about its business practices, brands, performance, products and services, etc. online.
Employees, customers, competitors, reporters, and various other stakeholders turn to the Internet and social media in order to obtain, publish, and further distribute crisis related information. As a result, uncensored and potentially damaging online content, including audio and video clips, is published and syndicated across borders in real time, and rumors and false information may remain available on the Internet indefinitely.
As companies are preparing for and responding to the rapidly growing number of business crises that are borne out of or exacerbated by social media activity, management should take the following steps.
  1. Establish, communicate and enforce a customized Social Media Policy
  2. Continuously monitor Internet and especially social media content
  3. Determine what engaging stakeholders via social media should accomplish
  4. Engage a broad range of stakeholders by way of peer-to-peer conversation using various social media tools
  5. Carefully listen to and act upon stakeholder feedback provided via social media
  6. Identify and connect with key online influencers so they distribute your carefully crafted stakeholder messages
  7. Rebut false claims and accusations appearing in social media
  8. Refrain from engaging in pointless debate with negative social media posters
  9. Link up your organization’s website and social media tools
  10. Evaluate your crisis response and make necessary social media related adjustments
If you have any questions concerning this article, please contact us at We look forward to hearing from you.

Food For Thought

"Crises refine life.
In them you discover what you are."

Allan K. Chalmers

Copyright © 2015 C4CS, LLC. All rights reserved.

Leaders in Strategic Communication
and Crisis Management