When employees need to be heard

Corporate reorganizations, mergers, big strategic announcements – these are the fun times for communicators when everyone wants our help and we can really show how communications matters.

But for many employees, these same events can cause disruption, anxiety, or be a signal to brush up the resume and start looking elsewhere. We all know that at such times it’s vital to keep communicating with employees, letting them know what’s going on, what’s going to happen, where they’ll be once the change has taken place.

But in the urge to communicate, are we forgetting the power of listening?

I was reminded of this by a Facebook update from Paul Matalucci, CEO of Wordwright Communications: “Today I prepared an agenda for 1:1 meetings that I will conduct with a client’s line managers. A wise colleague pointed out that given the scope of transformation underway at the site, managers would be better served by an opportunity to be heard rather than “informed.” So I’ve prepared a one-page handout of communication tips to leave behind. I’ll spend my 30 minutes asking questions.”

Often letting employees or managers ( or execs for that matter!) just talk about the issues and about their challenges and what they hope for provides a double benefit. The employee has the opportunity to raise issues and discuss obstacles, the communicator learns more about the audience and what they really need to hear.


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