How Leaders Can “Improv” Company Culture With Erin Diehl [Podcast]

How Leaders Can “Improv” Company Culture With Erin Diehl [Podcast]

Today on the PR Talk Podcast, Amy Rosenberg explores a different way of creating a positive company culture with Erin Diehl, founder and CEO of Improve it!, a unique professional development company, and host of the Improve It! Podcast. Erin shares how she uses the connection between improv and business development to help others grow professionally. 

Confidence Building Through Improv

When Erin began her career in recruiting, she was feeling a lot of anxiety until she joined an improv group. Growing up in the arts, Erin always felt comfortable with being in the spotlight, but that was when her performances were scripted. Now in the improv world, her confidence began to flourish as she lost her reliance on scripts, which connected to her professional growth. Erin’s newfound ability to initiate solutions on the fly, without fear of rejection, ultimately led to the creation of her company, Improv It! Now Erin combines improv practices with play, laughter and experiential learning. 

 

Getting Comfortable With the Uncomfortable

With a unique set of objectives provided by each client, Erin’s team at Improv It! develops a plan that not only tackles these objectives, but also leaves an opportunity for employees to voice their concerns. Providing space for honest communication allows for judgment-free employee engagement, which can expose where cultural problems might lie. 

Essentially, the process begins with a pre-questionnaire for all employees to define what is lacking. They then join a large meeting to practice improv games related to work. Afterward, a 3-week e-learning course allows teams to practice culture-building elements for 5 minutes every day. The point isn’t to change the culture in one day but to start the conversation.

 

Seeing a Need for Better Culture

Because the pandemic resulted in people quitting or feeling disconnected in WFH scenarios, the need for good company culture has become essential for many decision-makers. Leaders are realizing that in order to do business, they must first take care of the people who take care of the customers. When energy is low in a company, revenue may not be far behind.

An improv game Erin mentioned her team executes during development sessions provides an example of how to build energy and comfort among employees. Called “yes and,” the game provides fluid brainstorming by only allowing positive responses (through saying “yes, and”), before adding to or pivoting the conversation. Erin learned that when people respond with a positive phrase like “yes, and,” rather than a negative phrase like “no, because,” there is less judgment and fear, enabling employees to feel more comfortable and confident to make suggestions. 

 

Ways Leaders Can Improve Culture 

Realizing that not all companies can invest in development sessions, Erin says that the most significant action leaders can take is to ensure employees are never shut down. Moreover, leaders might practice stepping back and letting go of control to allow for new ideas and approaches. And finally, offering space for employees to connect and even approach past work failures from an optimistic point-of-view, may also help grow open and engaged cultures. 

Companies with happy, fantastic employees end up thriving and evolving, likely resulting in more revenue. Goodbye hiring and retaining issues. Hello, positive culture and more success. Tune in to learn more about Improve It! and what can happen when leaders let go of control.

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About the Guest: Erin Diehl

Founder and CEO of a professional development company, Improve it!, Erin Diehl conducts workshops across the country, leveraging improvisational techniques to improve employees’ skills in corporate settings. Her work with clients such as United Airlines, PepsiCo, Aon, Warby Parker, Lowe’s, Groupon, Deloitte, Motorola, Walgreens, Uber Freight, and The Obama Foundation earned her the 2014 Chicago RedEye Big Idea Award and nominations for the Chicago Innovation Award every year since 2015. 

Erin was a speaker for DisruptHR Chicago, hosted the 2016 RedEye Big Idea Awards, and has spoken at HRMAC Chicago, SHRM Chicago, the Business Marketing Association, and Emerging Leaders of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. She is also a proud member of The Chicago Innovation Awards Women’s Cohort and a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program.

Diehl Headshot

PR Talk is part of the Marketing Podcast Network

The Marketing Podcast Network gives brands that sell to marketers direct access to reach thousands of buyers via their trusted media source: Marketing podcasts. Browse our library of shows and see where your message can be placed to reach prospective customers ripe for your message.

 

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Where’s the Culture – Marketing Connection? Right Here with Emmy Thomas [Podcast]

Where’s the Culture – Marketing Connection? Right Here with Emmy Thomas [Podcast]

Joining Amy on today’s PR Talk Podcast is Emmy Thomas, VP of Brand and Marketing at Logical Position (LP), an award-winning digital marketing agency. During this episode, the two tackle the topic of connecting company culture and marketing.

Making the Culture and Marketing Connection

Emmy’s career trajectory clearly illustrates the connection between company culture and marketing. Working on the sales team when she first started at LP, Emmy transitioned to recruiting and then into marketing to her current position as vice president of brand and marketing. In that journey, she was able to see the company from both the customer and employee sides and began to understand the critical connection between company culture and marketing. Now, as she works to create a cohesive brand, Emmy starts by ensuring that LP’s internal culture empowers employees to be positive company megaphones.

 

How to Build a Strong Company Culture

In her recruiting role, Emmy learned about the value of employee experience.

“Happy employees that feel heard and respected can increase the odds of happy clients,” said Emmy. “When employees have a personal and deep investment in the company and its mission, they become a ‘megaphone’ and influential voice, externally. It’s not just leaders saying how great the company is; it’s everyone.”

To do that, LP builds an employee-focused culture through its company newsletters, virtual events and inclusive meetings that engage the entire organization. In addition, LP regularly uses internal surveys to gauge employee morale and gain opinions from staff to make continuous improvements enterprise-wide.

 

The Return on Investment

A working culture with empowered employees translates to powerful external marketing in which employee-client success stories can be shared. Stories such as these help external audiences make true connections with LP, building positivity, credibility, new client leads and current client retention.

And, at a time when The Great Resignation is causing employees and applicants to desire more than “just a job,” a positive company culture enhances recruiting, particularly through employee referrals.

 

Ways to Step Up Your Culture Game 

Emmy believes that if you work on culture first, the marketing will more easily fall into place. However, with many employees now having the option to work from home, it can be difficult to ensure their voices are heard and staff is engaged. LP has addressed this by providing department managers with tools, budgets and ideas for team building that adapt to remote workers.

When asked how companies can emulate this with minimal to no budget, Emmy offered the following tips:

  • Give employees a voice, then listen and respect it.
  • Implement surveys to implement organizational improvements.
  • Prioritize work-life balance.

Amy ended by asking Emmy about her personal mission statement. “I want to be sure that employees are proud that they work at LP. If they are proud of what we do, they’ll be more likely to promote the company organically.”

Listen now to learn more about different ways to create a positive company culture and effectively reflect it in your organization’s brand; plus what an applicant can discover about a company’s culture by observing its marketing.

Don’t Miss an Episode

You can access more great episodes by subscribing to the PR Talk podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio and Spotify.

About the guest: Emmy Thomas

Emmy is the vice president of brand and marketing at Logical Position, a 2021 Inc. Best Workplace (also named Inc.’s 2017 #3 Best Workplace), Oregonian Top Workplace, and Oregon Business 100 Best Company. In her role, Emmy ensures the company’s mission and values are represented throughout the LP brand with a consistent vision and voice across all internal and external channels. Alongside the Marketing and Employee Experience teams, she works to deliver on Logical Position’s company goal of increased revenue, efficiency, and employee satisfaction.  

Connect and follow Emmy on social media:

Emmy Thomas on PR Talk

PR Talk is part of the Marketing Podcast Network

The Marketing Podcast Network gives brands that sell to marketers direct access to reach thousands of buyers via their trusted media source: Marketing podcasts. Browse our library of shows and see where your message can be placed to reach prospective customers ripe for your message.

 

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.