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How Molson Coors brewed up stronger engagement

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This guest post is by Miri Zena McDonald, a strategic communications consultant. Miri tweets at @miri_orgchange. She attended the Marcus Evans 6th Annual Employee Engagement and Internal Communications Conference earlier this week in Orlando.

Molson Coors was able to dramatically improve its employee engagement through its Our Brew program,  Jill Hollingsworth, director of employee communications for Molson Coors, shared in her session at the conference. That program serves as the foundation for the company’s common culture, identity and team, she said.

Our Brew is a multi-pronged program that promotes the company’s mission, vision, values and goals, Hollingsworth said. Among its unique features is the way it was created, via a method called “clue gathering,”  in which employee worked together to gather facts about the company. About 3,000 such “clues” were gathered and distilled into the common themes that underlie Our Brew.

From this, a 38-page document was created and shared with all employees, organized by the following topics:

  • What we will do (Mission)
  • Who we will be (Vision)
  • How we will work (Codes of Conduct)
  • What we value (5 values)
  • Our ambition (To Become a top 4 global brewer)
  • What we must deliver by 2012 (Big Hairy Audacious Goals, ala “Built to Last” authors James Collins and Jerry Porras)

One key initiative from Our Brew is “Pub talk,”  which encourages leaders to talk to employees using plain language. For example, “the things we do well” is preferred over  “core competencies.” Guided by this approach, the CEO transformed the earnings memo into a two- minute video with a conversational tone.

The employee intranet was dubbed the “Brew Hub,” and it was redesigned with a number of interactive components, such as a toolbox for managers and a place to submit stories that show how their colleagues are living Our Brew.

Social media also plays a role.  About 2,500 employees are using Yammer to communicate internally, including the CEO.

The company’s strategy to keep up the momentum of Our Brew centers on four areas:

  • Activate the activists. Pockets of very passionate people formed Brew Councils. Molson Coors tests some communications and tools with them first.
  • Storytelling. Keep telling stories on the intranet that link employee behavior to Our Brew.
  • Executive visibility. Keep the CEO visible through “town halls,” videos and meetings with small groups of employees.
  • Managers living Our Brew through tools and training. Provide tools to help managers make this real for employees.