Something that a lot of companies are great at is tooting their own horn to the public – just look at how press releases and conferences are run when a major change occurs in a company. But that tooting doesn’t always translate internally. In a lot of cases, major changes occur, and the majority of the “grunts” in a company are left with a lingering question that no one likes to ask: What’s in it for me?
Sure, people are usually assured that they are still valued, and may even get a pep talk about how valuable they are, but when asked “do you have any questions?”, the answer is usually silence. I suspect that the reason for this is two-fold:
1) By and large, changes occur “out of the blue” for the majority of the organization
2) No one wants to be seen as the selfish guy who asks what does this do to help them
Yes, it’s great and wonderful that a larger company swallows up a smaller one, giving it access to new resources and maybe even some extra perks, but it’s the bigwigs that usually benefit from these sorts of changes. Fair enough, they’re at the top, taking the risks, more power to them. But doesn’t it behoove them to say more than “great news everyone, you’re not getting canned”?
One example I’ve seen of an organization doing internal communication right is an organization who won’t be named here. Whenever there’s a change to benefits, bonues, etc., the HR team sends out essentially a real FAQ – questions that the average worker will ask, answered in simple language. This isn’t to talk down to those people, it’s to ensure that everyone has a base level of understanding as to what is being done, why it’s being done, and the real effect it has.
To contrast, I’ve seen an organization go on and on about how amazing a particular financial move would be for their internal employees, but they never bothered to take the time and offer some basic education as to what this financial move would mean. As a result, many people made decisions based on incorrect assumptions that the organization made no effort to correct. With a little bit of effort, they could have avoided the confusion that ensued later.
Hopefully, as the work world becomes more and more complex, there will be a greater drive for internal communication. Saying your door is open for questions just isn’t enough.