A workforce should know its leaders as people, not just job titles. At J.P. Morgan Asset Management, communicators wanted to humanize the group’s Operating Committee, showing its members in a relaxed and personal manner. Their “Who AM I?” interview series (with the capitalized AM highlighting the Asset Management connection) did just that, and earned first place for Best Interview or Profile in Ragan’s 2013 Employee Communications Awards.
Each interview opens with a teaser in the table of contents of Prospectus, the organization’s interactive employee newsletter: “I’ve learned many important management lessons from watching ‘The Godfather.’ A fan of the Grateful Dead, I’ve also worked as a sound engineer for Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles, and have experience selling Daily News subscriptions. Who AM I?”
That’s Richard Armstrong, chief information officer. His interview, like the others, is fast-paced, concise, and filled with personal as well as professional details. Prospectus writers begin with a long list of questions for their subjects, but instead of simply going through the full list one question at a time, they search for jumping-off points as they talk, and then let the interview flow organically from there. The Armstrong interview, for example, explores the CIO’s career path, favorite books and movies, and outside activities. The result is a well-rounded portrait of an individual, not a dry retelling of a résumé and a few stale clichés about leadership.
The “Who AM I?” series has been far and away the most successful and most popular feature of the newsletter, with the interviews consistently showing up as the most read story in any issue. Seven of the top-read stories of all time, in fact, are “Who AM I?” profiles—a testament to the value of honest, personal communication between executives and employees, and to the work of J.P. Morgan communicators Brendan A. McGrail and Robert Carosella Jr.
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