In the last few years, managers throughout industry have seen more changes than many of them could have expected to see in their entire working lives having to communicate information which often leads to feelings of insecurity has become a key activity. From being regarded as relatively unimportant in many companies , management employee communication has become a central corporate need.
Concordia International provides a good example of a company that has adjusted well to the changing needs for communication . since 1995 , Concordia has been turned inside-out and upside-down, to ensure that it is a marketing –led, customer-responsive business, one that looks outwards at customers and competitors, rather than inwards at its own processes and the way things were done in the past. In the last eight years, Concordia has reduced its workforce by more than 80.000 people - or 35% -on a voluntary basis, with further downsizing anticipated.
From being an engineering company, Concordia is now remaking itself as a service company. The role of employee communication in such a context is to build people’s self-confidence, to persuade them that, although it is inevitable that the changes will go ahead, they also bring with them new opportunities for employees. However, this is not an easy task. People tend to be skeptical of these claims and to feel that they are losing touch with the company they have worked for over many years. This is understandable, since many of the old certainties are being swept away , including the core activities of the company they work for. Above all , they have had to face up to the fact that they no longer have a job for life.
Research indicates that people respond to this predicament in a variety of ways. The bulk of employees fall into two main categories in terms of their response to the new situation: on the one hand there are the “ pragmatists” and on the other “ the highly anxious” the former see their job as a means to an end and have a relatively short-term perspective, with strong loyalty to their local term , rather than the company as a whole . The second category, usually the majority, may respond to threatened changes with a feeling of having been let down, and even feel anger at the company for what they see as changing the terms of their employment.
` The employee communication process needs to be capable of accurately directing its messages at a variety of employee groups and departments within the workforce . this is why middle managers and line managers are so key to communication. They are the people who know about the full rage of concerns among the workforce. The problem in the past was that this crucial area was often the responsibility of a separate, relatively isolated unit. Concordia puts responsibility for communication firmly on line managers. All their research points to the same conclusion: people prefer to get their information face-to-face from their line managers. That is the key relationship and where arguments and hearts and minds –are lost.
The general rule in company communication is to tell employees as much as you can as soon as you can. If you can’t provide details, then at least put the news in context and commit yourself to providing greater detail when it becomes available another rule of company communication is that there must be a fit between what the company is telling its employees and what it is telling its shareholders.
In the last eight years, Concordia has?
A made over 80.000 employees reduncdant
B completed a period of downsizing
C reduced its workforce of 80.000 by 35%
D given 35% of departing employees voluntary redundancy