Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Internal communication

It seems that in these financially tumultuous times, employers are increasingly looking within in order to cut costs, streamline, and maximise revenue. Many have put in place recruitment freezes, cut non-essential hires, or cut down employee working hours.

Much talk is on managing existing talent to achieve maximum productivity.

But the feedback that I get is that these changes are not being communicated effectively. Nor are the feedback loops in place in order to ensure communication is two-way, and employees have a forum where they're comfortable to ask questions.

Any measures that are put in place are doomed to fail if they are not communicated effectively. Employees won't be engaged by structural changes unless they feel they are being told the full story. Unless they feel that changes benefit them individually and collectively - not the needs of some high-falutin', stoney-faced Board of Directors.

Every successful business needs to ensure employees feel valued; that - when times are tough - they are doing everything in their power to reduce operating costs with the least effect possible on staff numbers or morale. There needs to be postivity running like an iron rod through every necessary piece of bad news.

And when this news is communicated, it needs to be tied to the core beliefs and perceptions that caused employees to join the organisation to start with. It needs to explain why the employer brand of the organisation is still strong and visible, and that the reasons to stay engaged, motivated and productive are the same as they ever were.

An analogy: When Gerald Ratner spoke negatively about his business, it's value depreciated by 500million sterling. Lose the engagement and loyalty of your people, and the loss will be felt years after economic recovery.

Employers: Make your decisions visible and don't be afraid to use external agencies to communicate them well.

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