Larraine Solomon – Monster
In the latest of our series of Q&As with senior internal comms leaders, we put some questions to former ICT Associate Larraine Solomon, currently heading up Internal Comms and Change at Monster.
Tell us a bit about Monster as a business.
Monster is a global online employment solution for people seeking jobs and the employers who need great people. The company has been doing this for nearly 25 years, and have expanded from their roots as a ‘job board’ to a global provider of a full array of job seeking, career management, recruitment and talent management products and services.
What’s exciting to me is that Monster is pushing the boundaries of the job seeking experience, which for many years has been largely transactional and commoditised.
The job search of the future will be more of a conscious, eyes-wide-open discovery process, where candidates, employers, and recruiters learn about each other. It will tap data and technology to connect people more directly to relevant opportunities and reduce existing gaps. Most of all, it will bring humanity back to the process, and that’s exactly what we are aiming to achieve.
Tell us about your IC career before you joined Monster
Early in my career I was a business leader and a sales manager and like many people, I fell into Internal Communications a bit by accident. I soon discovered that the role enabled me to help change the employee experience at work every day – and as work is such an important part of our lives, it felt like an amazing thing to do! Many years later, with experience driving engagement at a number of different organisations, including Lloyds Bank, HM Revenue & Customs and Thomson Reuters , the vision of being able to ‘change the world’ through the way we communicate with each other is stronger than ever.
Prior to joining Monster, I had decided that the time was right in my career to set up my own business as a Freelance consultant, and I spent an amazing 2 years in this capacity working with the Internal Comms Team to support Thales, a key player in keeping the public safe and secure, guarding vital infrastructure and protecting the national security interests of countries around the globe.
Monster approached me about my current role and the lure of working for a ‘cool’ global brand, becoming part of an exceptional leadership team at a time of transformation, and being at the cutting edge of technology development was too strong to turn down.
How long have you been in your role at Monster?
I’ve been with Monster for 10 months and it seems to have flown by!
What’s the Internal Comms & Change team structure at Monster?
Quite simply, it’s lean and mean! We are an organisation which is in the midst of a business turnaround, and our current financial priority is to invest in the strategic products and services that will delight our customers and deliver a competitive advantage. For a long time, I had one team member, and I am about welcome an additional pair of hands shortly. I have supplemented this resource with some invaluable help from the Internal Comms Team!
Being a small team means that we have to ruthlessly prioritise where we spend our time, and for me this means as much face to face activity as possible where we encourage an ongoing dialogue, enabling colleagues to shape our Monster transformation journey together. Employees value real, honest conversation and involvement rather than ‘corporate’ updates.
What other important channels do you deliver?
As a global organisation, connecting people who work in different offices across multiple time-zones is always a challenge. Monster has teams of terrific, talented employees who are always keen to collaborate and learn from each other and part of my challenge is always to connect people.
To help achieve this, I am in the process of completely transforming our intranet, from an old-fashioned, static, controlled, information tool, to a dynamic, innovative ‘digital workplace’. A combination of cool, ground breaking technology, together with a fresh new team of Monster ‘Change Makers’ and a culture where innovation is embraced will enable us to change the game in how we collaborate and shape our business.
I was involved in a similar project when I worked with Thomson Reuters and was blown away by the impact the tool had on employees and the success of the business as a whole.
We also prioritise leadership visibility. People want to be able to talk with the people leading the organisation and this builds trust and confidence.
How are internal communications positioned in Monster – what does the business look to you for?
I am part of the senior team that make business decisions and Internal Communications is seen as critical to our success. My many different hats include employee engagement, change enabler, business leader, role model, leadership coach, problem solver, culture shaper and sounding board. There is certainly never a dull moment!
What are the main challenges for your team this year?
It’s often said that ‘people don’t like change’ but I always challenge this. After all, we change all the time in our personal lives – our jobs, our cars, our houses….
The difference between change in our working lives and personal lives often comes down to our ability to choose, and make decisions. But what if we create the conditions within a workplace where people have the freedom to make many decisions and shape our direction?
At a time of very significant transformation at Monster, my challenge (more of an opportunity) is to find ways to involve colleagues in the journey we are on, enabling them to help co-create an exciting future. It’s often not as easy as it sounds, but the prize is an engaged workforce that love coming to work every day. For me, that’s what makes it all worthwhile.