One of our clients is currently going through a major cost efficiency programme. They’re not often pleasant experiences, we should know, we’ve helped with a few. But if communicated properly, with employees kept firmly in mind, these difficult processes can be carried out effectively, with empathy.
We came across a good article by a chap called Tom Searcy that looked at some of the pitfalls when communicating this type of change. You can find it here, but we’ve also made an attempt to take some of his points a bit further below:
1. Face time. There’s a reason every communicator that gets the chance will tell you that communicating face to face is the most effective way to convey a message. It’s true. Sending an email to half a department telling them they’re at risk is less than ideal and doesn’t really illustrate a great deal of respect for your employees. Where possible sensitive messages should first be delivered face to face.
2. Local messages for local people. A broadcast blog from the CEO explaining that half the workforce will be cut won’t do much for moral. Research suggests that people’s line managers are the most important source of information at work – when they talk, people listen. Allowing business leaders to deliver sensitive messages to their teams locally (albeit with a firm brief) helps strengthen the relationship between supervisors and direct reports, underlines the importance of middle management and ultimately, gets the message across.
3. Lend a helping hand. A major problem with devolving messages like these to local leaders is that often, these leaders aren’t what you might consider natural communicators. Ill-equipped line managers can make a scenario like this far worse by mumbling through a briefing document they’ve been given or forwarding an email on without providing any context. Communication teams need to therefore take an active role in up skilling the leadership community in advance, helping them understand what they need to do and say to get people on board.
Have you been through something like this recently? Tell us your thoughts…