COMMUNICATION AND MANAGEMENT OF ORGANIZATIONAL CLIMATE Adriana Sousa Communicati ons Manager at the Center for Customer Care

American Express credit cards in the segment. American Express earlier this month held the 15th Annual Survey of Sta ff, which aims to measure the perceptions of employees about the various element s that comprise the organizational climate. Worldwide, approximately 65 000 empl oyees polled in over 50 countries in 24 different languages. Currently, most of the responses is done via Internet. The research is coordinated by the Office of Research Staff, headquartered in New York and now has three professionals. They coordinate a support network spread across all countries where the company oper ates in several areas. At the Center for Customer Services of American Express i n Brazil, based in Uberlandia, management of research is the responsibility of t he Communication area. In other offices in Brazil, is the responsibility of Huma n Resources. Around the world, this administration can be made by Human Resource s, Quality, Training, assistants, among several others. Due to the dimensions th at involve a global company like American Express, the search is performed by an outside vendor, one of the leading experts in the management of climate, called Sirota Consulting. Although you can completely outsource the management of a cl imate survey, American Express has chosen a model that allows different countrie s where it operates are fully involved in the process, adapting it to each cultu re. Structure Research, held annually in September, the administration process b egins around April, when each country is asked to confirm that the translation o f new questions and changes proposed after the administration. In May, it begins the process of structuring the research, which defines the hierarchy of the com pany, starting with the Amex CEO, Ken Chenault, and down to the level of supervi sors responsible for staff providing care services to enterprise customers in ea ch country which it operates. This step is the backbone of the research, which w ill allow the results can be seen from the smallest organizational unit, through managers, business units, countries, regions and globally. The concern with thi s step is justified by the need to take a survey whose results are actually work ed by the leaders of the organization, improving the climate on an ongoing basis . Reports are generated for leaders who have at least 10 staff respondents. When a leader does not meet this minimum requirement, your score goes up to the next level, becoming a manager or director. Furthermore, this report also indicates the way for the results of the previous year, allowing the generation of a repor t that the story of redemption and each leader to assess progress. The Annual Su rvey of Staff American Express is divided into 14 dimensions, of which eight are on corporate values and how the employees experience and the others are related to other aspects of the organization. The relative sizes of the values are: Respect for People, Commitment to Customers, Q uality, Good Citizenship, Will to Win, Personal Responsibility, Teamwork and Int egrity. The others are: Meritocracy, Work, Effective Leadership, Employee Engage ment, Employee Development and Diversity. Furthermore, there are questions that evaluate the quality of the action plans developed to address the questions of p revious research. Each dimension has a set of questions that can range from five to eight, some of which have greater weight than others. In total, the Annual S urvey of Staff has 106 questions. Possibly, depending on the needs of different businesses the company may be added specific questions. The dynamics of business may also influence changes in the questions, which are reported only for the un its affected. In addition, employees have the option of making written comments, highlighting two aspects they like most about working in the company and two wh o enjoy less. Communication process for search Each country defines its way to a dminister the survey, from the guidelines given by the central office. In Brazil , the Amex bet heavily on communication to educate employees about the importanc e of offering honest and clear feedback for each question. The communication pro cess include brochures, banners, workshops clarifying, strengthening leadership, signaling the rest of the computer screen. With these efforts,€the company has achieved a share of 95% of active employees in the last six years. Remember tha t the survey is voluntary and at the beginning, the average attendance was aroun d 70-80%. The communication does not only act towards achieving participation. I

t is also important to recover and relate what was done over 365 days of the yea r, a process called "link and label." Throughout the year, and more consistently in the month preceding the survey, the link is made of corporate messages to th e dimensions mentioned above. In the mural of the operational area, for example, the boom of each note refers to one dimension of research. If the note is about the result of recognition programs, the boom is Meritocracy. If the note is on a campaign to collect food, the boom is Good Citizenship and so on. The positive results and the opportunities are also guided other corporate communications ch annels, such as internal journal, meetings with leadership, among others. On the eve of the research, this process of linking the dimensions to corporate achiev ements gained more strength with the release of information that recover the pos itive actions of the company within each dimension, educating employees about th e size and at the same time showing what was done . This attitude may sound mark eting campaign, but as the survey takes place annually, it is very easy for peop le to forget about positive things that happened 11 months, but remember very we ll from a negative fact which happened a few days. The Annual Survey of Staff is to evaluate the work of one year and not the perceptions of weeks. Innovate in this communication process is one of the challenges and the benefits of their ma nagement be done by the Communications area. In 2005, for example, beyond the tr aditional means already mentioned, we developed the Quiz Amex, which at the same time that educating employees to better understand the dimensions, made a major recovery a ctions. The investment was minimal, since the company has as one of its communic ation tools the wallpaper of computers all the hub. So every day the staff learn ed about a size, responded to questions and compete to simple gifts, like pens, folders, etc.. The administration of the research lasts four weeks, time enough for employees worldwide to participate with ease. In few places is still done by the administration role, which makes the results take approximately 40 days to be available worldwide. Dissemination of results The results come out the same d ay and time, and all leaders are notified via email about your users and passwor ds to access them. A month earlier, the research leaders in all countries make a n online training on the tool where the results will be available so that they c an download the results of their areas and support the leaders. Each leader can lower your score according to their level of authority. Thus, a supervisor will have the results of their group. A manager can see the results of all its superv isors and so on. The area of communication in Uberlândia is responsible for rec eiving and analyzing the outcome of the whole area of customer service, and to a nalyze the results of each leader to identify which need more support and which should be recognized for good results. In some cases, the results may identify t he need to change an area's leader and even a shutdown. The report lets you view the search result is quite broad and rich, with a variety of readings that allo w the leadership to act in a timely manner to improve the so-called points of op portunity. They are initially presented by size, those 14 mentioned above. In a chart, you can see the leader as the perception of his team in relation to organ izational goals. Then, this leader can give his evolution from one year to anoth er, both in the positive aspects as in bad times. Each leader also receives a re port with all the questions and how is its performance by comparing its results to the entire organization. Reports to board or large units, you can still have readings specific hierarchical level, seniority, time that the person wants to s tay in business, gender, location, among others. Usually leaders assess the resu lts of the most basic form, but the area of communication makes several possible analysis to support the organization in the points that should be reinforced an d those that need improvement.€In the operational area of the Amex in Brazil re porting results for employees takes place in three steps. A week after the discl osure for the leadership, no matter what the outcome, all employees receive a le tter from Vice President with a thank you for participating, followed by the res ults. This is the first step. In the next stage, each leader must make the commu nication of their results for their teams and reap feedback to develop a persona l action plan to act on the points of opportunity. The third step is the dissemi

nation of results in more detail to the ESAT (Employee Satisfaction Action Team) , a group formed by officers and will act collectively to propose improvements to the climate of the department. This group receives a deeper level of information. Action plans on the results The third step in the process of reporting the results is perhaps the most important because it is the beginning of the preparation of improvemen t plans in each department, which must be designed and executed by the employees themselves. ESAT groups are formed by officials elected by their peers. The pro cess is voluntary and there are some minimum standards of performance and attend ance. Candidates are chosen on a direct vote, quite simple. By 2004, it was a ch oice made by the area of communication, but the direct election was more effecti ve engagement. In 2005, approximately 80 employees participated in the process, which begins with a welcome meeting, where the group learns more about the resea rch process and what is expected of them in developing improvement plans. This f irst meeting is coordinated by the Communication area. At the next meeting, memb ers of the ESAT deeply evaluate the results of their research area and identify two or three points on which they act. In subsequent meetings, each of these opp ortunities is studied from a methodology called Appreciative Inquire, "something like" enjoy the positive. " Employees are asked to think about the opportunitie s identified from the perspective of what is working and should be increased. In the past the focus was to fix the errors, but this led to a climate heavier. Wi th the focus on what needs to be improved, many good ideas emerge and are easier to implement. At the end of the discussion process, members of the ESAT present their plans for managers and area directors, who approve or not. The approval d epends on how the plan is feasible and cost-effective. The process of employee i nvolvement does not mean that the company will do whatever is requested, but the things which bring gain to all dimensions of business: customers, employees, sh areholders and community. Throughout the process of drawing up action plans, com munication is key. The more members of the ESAT communicate with colleagues, dis cussing ideas, asking for suggestions and sharing the results of the meetings, t he closer the planes are the expectations of the group. Action plans vary in tha t most basic needs are met. In the past, for example, create an Internet cafe or a benefit aimed at college students were top priorities. Today, much of the pla ns address opportunities in systems and business processes, focused on providing excellence in customer service, a priority of Amex worldwide. All work done by the area of communication, and the ESAT leaders is measured every new search via the specific questions and the overall outcome of satisfaction, which in the pa st two years was greater than 80% to 92% in 2003 result as excellent by the stan dards of the company. Examples of action plans in the past five years, some acti on plans positively changed the routine of the operational area in Uberlandia. T he establishment of the Communications Department was a plan of action proposed by staff, since the surveys in 2000 and 2001 pointed to flaws that comp romised customer service, knowledge and commitment of the company. By September 2002, the Public Relations department, located in São Paulo, coordinated distan ce communications, with support from the area of Quality. After developing a str uctured plan and the strengthening of corporate messaging, the 2003 survey obtai ned excellent results, over 90% of overall satisfaction. Another strategy whose results the employees gathered to date was the creation of the Cyber Cafe in a c all center, employees have different times of attendance and often make the jour ney home-work-college without having time to rest. Thus,€officials have propose d creating a democratic space where they could spend some free time studying, do ing schoolwork, etc.. Created in 2001, is still considered one of the main achie vements of the group. The profile of the public and the responses to the item of Staff Development led the company to create the Education Aid benefit, support for the payment of tuition for higher education, awarded to employees who have g ood results. The corporate communication also is guided by much research. It was noticed that despite all efforts by the company to disclose its pay program, ma ny employees did not have a clear vision and responded unfavorably in the search

. After identification of this item, the Amex has become an annual statement to all employees, indicating what their total compensation, considering wages and b enefits. The evaluation of employees on this point has grown considerably in sub sequent years. Recognition programs and awards were also strengthened its commun ication after analyzing the results of questions concerning the Meritocracy. Alt hough the company has several recognition programs, whose prizes ranging from di nner for two to an all expenses paid trip to New York, the perception of employe es regarding the item is quite lagging behind. In 2004 and 2005, a series of pla nned actions reinforced the concept of communication programs with employees, bu t the results have not yet begun to appear. Other ways to measure the climate Th e Annual Survey of Staff is the main tool used by American Express to measure th e organizational climate, but many others are available to leaders in organizati ons of all sizes. Some are quite simple as spending a few minutes in smokehouses in the canteen at the bus stop. Others require more organization and can count on support from areas such as Human Resources or Communication. On the Amex, we use the meetings between leaders and led to frequently monitor the internal envi ronment by walking. They are called "skip levels" meetings where employees have the opportunity to talk with managers, directors or vice president without the d irect presence of the leaders. The Vice President of Customer Services area meet s fortnightly with the staff and after explaining the purpose of the meeting usu ally ask what the radio pedestrian walks around saying they'd like to ask for th e official radio. With this sentence, breaks the ice and can identify strengths and opportunities of the company. Managers and directors perform these coffees w ith less frequently, but in every way they allow you to monitor more closely what goes by the environment, allowing preventive actions. Another tool available is the int ernal contact Express, an electronic channel where employees can submit question s for the leadership, without having to identify themselves. When a theme appear s again and again in this channel, a focus is being watched more closely and to be worked carefully. Meetings with supervisors are another rich source to monito r the weather. Their perceptions about the work environment is usually true and you can prevent a small unsatisfactory situation from turning into something tha t can cause more noise. After completing three years and is responsible for admi nistering the Annual Survey of American Express officials and the management of action plans, the main learning was that companies change slowly and that change s should be simple, direct and to involve the very employees. Conduct the survey annually does not mean that every 12 months the company will have to throw away what has been done and start again, according to the results. Many action plans may take more than a year to be implemented, financially viable and effectively changing the organizational reality. Therefore, top management should not expec t an action plan for immediate results. Often this result may come back in two o r three surveys. Engagement is key word for the realization of a climate survey successfully. Leadership must be engaged in encouraging employees to give their feedback and then act in groups to develop plans of action. Employees must be en gaged and believe that their voice was heard and that they have a chance to chan ge reality through their direct participation. Climate surveys are a rich materi al for the management of people, products and processes. They should not be the focus of attention only in the periods preceding or following the posting of res ults.€They should be considered in actions for the internal audience, and marke t research help in launching a new product or service. Search inside the drawer is a waste of time, money and resources. It is a picture of the domestic audienc e, which each day demands to be treated effectively as a "client" of the organiz ation. I believe the success of the process of Amex is the seriousness with whic h the process is treated in the intelligent use that areas of Communication and Human Resources are the data and present that every leader to receive feedback f rom their employees. All leaders of the organization study results, work in thei r areas to propose improvements and also act in a corporate context. Employee pa rticipation in the search for solutions is also important, as a source of innova tion. Often the answer to a complex problem may be a simple proposition for some

one who handles a daily process. All companies aspire results above 80 or 90% an d remaining time. Amex in Brazil, there is still some instability with the mergi ng of other good and exceptional results. This is because any survey is a portra it of a time and in recent years companies have faced very large changes and to reinvent themselves every moment. The main learning from this process is actu ally know to celebrate the exceptional result, without neglecting the internal c limate and roll up their sleeves when it's time to move forward. A final learnin g, for companies who want to consciously invest in some serious work on climate, is to avoid the trap of turning research into the list of demands, as it possib ly can be the temptation of corporate "buy" a result at the expense of a lawsuit "populist" pleasing to officials. Any undertaking to readjust wages by 100%, re ducing the journey by half and reduce the challenges and goals, will have 100% s atisfaction of their employees, but it is difficult to predict how long you can survive in the market where you need to reinvent themselves every day, ensure a balance between its strategic pillars.