Leadership Communication, Internal Marketing, and Employee Engagement: A Recipe to Create Brand Ambassadors

Leadership Communication, Internal Marketing, and Employee Engagement: A Recipe to Create Brand Ambassadors

Karen E. Mishra (Meredith College, USA), Aneil K. Mishra (East Carolina University, USA) and Khaner Walker (Lenovo, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9970-0.ch017
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This chapter examines the internal communication practices of Lenovo, a $39 billion Fortune Global 500 technology company, and the world's largest PC vendor. In particular, this study examines how this company uses social media as a form of internal marketing to foster employee engagement. Internal communications (or internal marketing) is generally led by marketing or PR professionals with expertise in human resources, public relations, marketing, social media, and/or employee engagement. One new way that companies are extending internal communication is by developing the use of their company intranets. Intranets can support an organization by sharing accurate leadership communication and company information on a timely basis to develop trust with employees and encourage them to act as brand ambassadors. This chapter describes how Lenovo has developed and uses its Lenovo Central intranet to engage employees in its mission and vision.
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Literature Review

The Role of Internal Communication

The practice of internal communication can enhance an organizational culture by promoting employee engagement through open communication (Cahill, 1995; Deloitte, 2013; Harrison, 2013; Men & Stacks, 2014). Employees typically prefer to receive more communication from their superiors as it promotes their willingness to be involved in solving problems in the organization. Research has consistently argued for and empirically found that greater sharing of information by the organization serves to enhance employee empowerment, including a greater sense of impact on the organization and a greater sense of meaning (Mishra, & Spreitzer, 1998; Spreitzer & Mishra, 1999; Siegall & Gardner, 2000; Mills & Ungson 2003). Similar arguments and findings exist for the positive effect of communication within an organization on employee engagement (Kress, 2006; Saks, 2006; Rockland, 2014). In fact, a recent survey by PWC found that 20% of engagement by employees occurs as a result of the company’s internal communications (Rockland, 2014). Welch & Jackson (2007) also identified internal communication as crucial for achieving employee engagement. A 2007/2008 Watson Wyatt study found that “Firms that communicate effectively are four times as likely to report high levels of employee engagement as firms that communicate less effectively.”

Most recently, a Deloitte culture survey (2013) found that 50% of employees feel that “regular and candid communication” leads to a “culture of meaningful purpose.” In addition, internal marketing “enables the firm to serve the needs of the customer (DeBussy, Ewing & Pitt, 2003: p. 150).” As reported in the Deloitte survey on culture and beliefs (2013), only 57% of employees who are happy at work said that their bosses talked about culture with them. Saks (2006) emphasized the need for clear and consistent communications with employees in order to achieve employee engagement, and suggested that employees who are more engaged will have a more positive relationship with their employer. Yet, managers seem to have less time to communicate, due to their demanding jobs (Robson & Tourish, 2005).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Intranet: internet services specifically for employee use in order to share corporate and employee knowledge (Ruppel & Harrington, 2002 AU74: The in-text citation "Ruppel & Harrington, 2002" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; DeBussy, Ewing & Pitt, 2003 AU75: The in-text citation "DeBussy, Ewing & Pitt, 2003" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Lenovo Central: The company Intranet for Lenovo.

Employee Engagement: Employee engagement is “the degree to which an individual is attentive and absorbed in the performance of their roles” ( Saks, 2006 , p. 602).

Trust: Trust is defined as a willingness to be vulnerable to another person or party based on some positive expectations regarding the other party’s intentions and/or behaviors ( Mishra & Mishra, 1994 ).

Lenovo: Lenovo is not just another technology company. We make the technology that powers the world’s best ideas. We design tools for those who are driven by accomplishment. We are the company that powers the people who Do. The engine that helps them Do more. Do better. Do what’s never been done. And we are united in the quest to help our users defy the impossible.

Social media: Social media is also referred to as consumer-generated media. It includes online information created and/or shared by consumers about their favorite products and/or brands. “Social media encompasses a wide range of online, word-of-mouth forums including blogs, company-sponsored discussion boards and chat rooms, consumer-to-consumer e-mail, consumer product or service ratings websites and forums, Internet discussion boards and forums, moblogs (sites containing digital audio, images, movies, or photographs), and social networking websites, to name a few” ( Mangold & Faulds, 2009 ).

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