The 9 C’s of Engagement, and Why Everything is About Communication

R. “Ray” Wang, Principal Analyst and CEO at Constellation Research Group, shares this warning in the HBR blog about attempts to communicate with and engage today’s customers.

Most customers now ignore targeted marketing campaigns, avoid responding to offers, and provide minimal feedback when asked. Instead, potential customers interact with each other, bypassing sanitized corporate messages devoid of meaning or value.”

Switch out the word “customer” for “employee,” and I think the same warning and observation could apply to our efforts to communicate with our workforces about rewards and our efforts to solicit their involvement in and buy-in to our reward plans.

And so, Wang’s advice is worth considering for our reward communication efforts. In his HBR blog post, he outlines the nine C’s of engagement, which are worth our consideration as we strive to craft the right customer employee reward experience.

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The Three C’s of people-centric values

  • Culture – norms and preferences;
  • Community – internal and external stakeholders;
  • Credibility – trust earned through actions.

The Three C’s of delivery and communication

  • Channel – means of communication;
  • Content – topic or information being covered;
  • Cadence – frequency of delivery (ad hoc, scheduled or continuous);

The Three C’s of right time drivers

  • Context – roles, relationships, timing; factors impacting how communication is absorbed and interpreted;
  • Catalyst – what inspires action and/or response;
  • Currencies – things that influence behavior through the exchange of value (important for us to keep in mind that these extend beyond the obvious cash elements to things like recognition, access and influence).

Wang’s Nine C’s should serve as a helpful reminder to us that communication (in compensation) is about more than words, and certainly about more than an annual memo and brochure.

This was originally published on Ann Bares’ Compensation Force blog.

Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. She has over 20 years of experience consulting in compensation and performance management and has worked with a variety of organizations in auditing, designing and implementing executive compensation plans, base salary structures, variable and incentive compensation programs, sales compensation programs, and performance management systems.

Her clients have included public and privately held businesses, both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, early stage entrepreneurial organizations and larger established companies. Ann also teaches at the University of Minnesota and Concordia University.

Contact her at


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