Monday, March 16, 2009

Internal comms in a downturn - the right way

After speaking to a mate of mine that works at a bit ol' multinational employing thousands of people, my heart was brightened to learn that some employers (well, his at least) are getting it right. (Click here to hear my previous vent on this topic.)

Are they listening to their people? Tick.
Are they acting on feedback? Tick.
Are they communicating in a way that's attractive to the employee? Tick.
Are they putting visibile action plans in place? Tick.
Are changes executed by people who can make them? Tick, tick, tick.

All the initiatives my mate mentioned will no doubt help him build a more satisfied and engaged workforce. Not every irk will be actioned, but at least it's been vented. And there's no underestimating the knock-on effect of John returning from lunch and telling his mates, "Those guys really listened, and they took it all on-board."

But what's really key to good communication is that employers see the world through their employees' eyes, and every communication adopts the principle of addressing some employee need, before looking at another objective. It doesn't mean every piece of communication has to be exactly what the employee wants, or that you're not allowed to communicate bad news. But it does have to address the knock-on effects of that piece of news and address the anticipated results.

The worst mistake an employer can make is by thinking that it's all about communicating, from the top to the bottom, what the board wants everyone in the canteen to hear.

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