Strategy in action: The Vodafone way

How do you communicate a new business strategy with employees, what are the stages you go through and how do you make it part of your company’s DNA?

I’m pleased to welcome Padraic Knox, Internal Communications Consultant with Vodafone Ireland. In this guest article he is going to draw on his own experience and examine what really works and how can you embed new ways of working or messaging. He takes a look at the model of having an overall vision that is underpinned by columns (I’m sure you can picture this, but if you need more info, do shout) and shares the work he has done linking the strategy to the annual employee conference.

Padraic specialises in “delivering high quality internal events and communications to employees to facilitate understanding, engagement and alignment to company strategy, culture and values.” One of his particular areas of expertise involves “leveraging your external brand internally to benefit employees.”

He’s a great person to follow on Twitter @padraic_knox. I enjoy reading his tweets and thanks to him I’ve signed up for a fascinating looking event in London next month after he sent it my way. I’m attending a session led by a former Scotland Yard hostage negotiator, called Communication Secrets of a Hostage Negotiator. I’ll write about it here afterwards.

Got your own story to share? I’m always on the look out for IC pros to contribute to my blog in the form of guest articles. Check out my guidelines and you could see your name here, do please get in touch with your ideas.

But, for now, I’ll hand you over to Padraic…

Your Strategy in action – Launching and making it part of your company’s DNA

I’m going to be looking at how to use your staff conference to launch a new or refreshed company strategy. If you’re a launching a new or refreshed vision for the future, your senior leadership team will no doubt put a lot work into how it looks, feels, whether it is right for the business and be thinking about how all functions, teams and employees will deliver on this over the next few years.

We as internal communication and engagement professionals have an important role to play in facilitating the message around the business so that everyone ‘lives and breathes’ it.

At Vodafone Ireland we recently refreshed our strategy, and the following are some points about our journey which will help you hit the ground running if you are about to embark on your own refresh:

  • Start thinking about how everyone is going to first hear about your new vision. A good launch pad is your annual employee conference where you have all your people together in one spot. This ensures consistency of message
  • Get your Senior Leadership team to present the new vision cross-functionally. For example a lot of strategies are consumer, brand or customer focused; don’t leave it up to your Consumer Director, all Leadership team members should present and play a part in unveiling your new vision
  • Keep it simple at the conference; you should be going into no more detail than the main pillars, backing up these pillars with some high level ideas / initiatives which are already in place or soon to kick off. This shows that your new vision is starting to work already and has been well thought out around fitting into what your business is already achieving.
  • If the main message at your conference is around your new vision, keep it as this, push back on other stakeholders who wish to have other non-relevant topics and material covered, this will ensure clarity of message
  • Other ‘nice to haves’ on your conference day include how you bring your venue to life; I would recommend having your venue branded or if there’s digital signage, use this. If suitable, use some teasers on arrival, they can prelude to what is going to be spoken about at the main event. Post event if feasible, switch the digital signage around with messaging on your new strategy so when everyone exits the conference, they see your new pillars everywhere (I like this idea – Rachel)
  • Post conference, if there’s food and drink, why not have exhibition stands with each of your new strategy pillars brought to life. Encourage employees to visit these stands by having a competition card with questions built into the areas

PadraicOnce employees hear about your new vision at your conference, the hard work now begins when everyone returns to the business. You need to really think about a swift follow-up, I recommend the following:

  • The day after the event, hand out a laptop stickers with your strategy pillars and top lines to everyone. If you have plasma messaging screens in your building, get it up on these also
  • Provide people managers with a support pack around the new vision, if you have videoed the event, maybe get key nuggets and points into a cutaway and circulate with the pack
  • Put the employee conference up on replay on your company intranet, this will help those who were on annual leave or couldn’t make the event
  • Any future comms that reference any initiative which is relevant or has grown from your new vision should be referenced – look for every opportunity to sing and shout about it
  • Put a plan in place for the next few months to embed the strategy, how it’s going to be referenced internally, how employees are going to be updated on it
  • If it’s within your remit, your company performance dialogue and employee goals should be fed to come from your strategy.

Post author: Padraic Knox.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and offering some valuable hints and tips. If you’re planning an employee and looking to ‘go big’, Padraic has offered to share further ideas about making it stand out, memorable and engaging. You can find him on Twitter @padraic_knox and on LinkedIn.

What do you think of his advice? Do you agree/disagree? What works for you? You’re welcome to comment below or tweet me @AllthingsIC.



  1. Sarah Hodges says:

    I think there are some really great ideas mentioned here. Some seem really simple, yet impactful. Great reminder that communicating about a new strategy doesn’t end when employees leave the conference. I love the idea of targetting comms at the buffet table too!

    Do you have any measurement processes in place to see how effective the conference was?

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