Jodi Heard, Polyconcept
The Power of Executive Leadership Communication
Senior Manager, HR, Culture & Communication
Polyconcept North America
It’s all about employee engagement. If the employees of an organization do not understand the goals and priorities, and where they fit within those goals, then the work they are doing is meaningless to them and their commitment wanes.
Jodi joined the Trimark Sportswear promotional apparel team in 2013 and was responsible for understanding, defining, and supporting a broad spectrum of HR strategic business activities. In 2017, Jodi took on the added responsibility of internal communication for Trimark’s parent company, Polyconcept North America. She is an integral advocate who champions a transparent and inclusive company culture while managing a strong understanding of the business, objectives, challenges, and opportunities. Promoted to Senior Manager, Human Resources Culture & Communications in 2018, Jodi is accountable for driving a single, unified culture across all PCNA locations through specific initiatives and programs. Over the past decade Jodi’s passion and unwavering commitment has been to create an environment, and culture that is inclusive and encourages all employees to reach their full potential.
Get to know Jodi
What is your communications high and low?
The highs are when the communication reaches the audience it’s meant to and provides them with a sense of belonging and a better understanding of the role they play within an organization. The lows are when the communication is lost in its delivery. Before we introduced the employee app, the onus was on the Managers, and Line Supervisors to share any communication. Many times, due to busy work schedules, and other commitments, the communication didn’t reach the intended audiences. Many of our employees are deskless workers, who speak English as a second language. Thankfully, theEMPLOYEEapp has played a tremendous role in connecting these teams directly to communication firsthand.
What got you started in HR and communications?
When I first began my career over 30 years ago, I was an Executive Assistant for a Vice President in a large utility organization. I was in that role for 17 years. During that time I had the opportunity to learn a great deal about personalities, what drives people, what it is that engages, or disengages a team, and I learned how one person’s behaviour can have a drastic effect on internal team success. I knew that whatever path I was going to embark on, it was going to involve helping both employees, and executives understand what each other needed to be successful and feel engaged.
How does being an HR professional inform your communication strategy?
It’s all about employee engagement. If the employees of an organization do not understand the goals and priorities, and where they fit within those goals, then the work they are doing is meaningless to them and their commitment wanes, resulting in a disconnect and a lack of engagement. Building connections vertically and horizontally across our company is our communication strategy.
What are your tips or best practices for other companies going through a merger or acquisition?
Over communicate and ensure you are reaching all levels in the organization. Rebrand together and make your employees part of the story. They will need to feel a sense of belonging to the new business so they still feel like they are part of its future success. During COVID-19, we introduced a virtual Coffee & Conversation series for our employees, led by our CEO. Small groups at a time from all of our locations were able to have two way communication with him in a very comfortable setting. He shared business updates, but mostly spent the time answering their questions. As he is relatively new to our company it was an excellent way for them to get to know each other. Having this type of dialogue through a M&A would be very valuable.
Why do you think leadership communication is important to success as a business? Can you share some examples of what you’re doing?
It is paramount in connecting the dots between the business goals and the people who are instrumental in supporting the priorities to achieve them. At PCNA we are connecting with our teammates in the following ways:
- CEO Connect: We started this weekly video series with our CEO at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our CEO wanted to be able to reach our employees at the same time and share updates as he was receiving them. Now, we’re pivoting these stories away from crisis updates to include stories about our community outreach, teammate recognition related to our core values, accolades from customers, and employee spotlights across multiple departments. It’s been great at creating unity from our plants to product development, customer service, marketing, etc.
- PCNA Connect: These bimonthly video calls are led by Polyconcept’s president. The goal is to connect employees with business leaders by sharing company updates, key initiatives, and acknowledging what we are doing well and what can be done better. But follow-up is also important to helping connect employees to your larger purpose. We share the deck with each leader who then is expected to meet with their team and connect the state of the business to their roles.
- Trimark Connect: These bimonthly video meetings are led by the VP and GM of our apparel division (Trimark) to give them a sense of belonging and understand how their roles fit into the bigger picture at Polyconcept North America. Each call, we recognize employees through peer nominations (Cheers for Peers) and highlight a specific department. That department leader highlights a day in the life of their employees to give other teams perspective on what they do and they shout out every member of the team.