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Expectations

November 14th, 2016

An expectation is a belief that something is likely to happen.  While the definition is simple, the concept, as it relates to employee communications, is not.  An expectation is further complicated during times of labour unease.

Many factors contribute to the success of your employee communications, such as tone, tactics, and timing.  Just as critical are the expectations that you set for your employees.  In some work environments, management is open and transparent in their communications to employees—they talk about everything.  In this situation, employees come to expect that all issues will be addressed openly and transparently.  In other organizations, management only communicates on a need-to-know basis, and employees come to expect that they will just learn the minimum from management.

While I tend to think that more communication with employees is always better, organizations do what works for them.

An issue arises when expectations around employee communications are not met.  When the always-open organization stops communicating, it creates confusion and frustration for those employees who have come to expect it.  Conversely, when an organization that is usually tight-lipped begins communicating freely and openly, it can create suspicion amongst employees.

As a wise leader once said to me, “If you have never served coffee and doughnuts at a meeting, don’t start when you are delivering bad news.  It makes you look suspicious.”

This is not to say that you cannot change the way you communicate with your employees.  You always have that option, but you need to be cognizant of employee expectations and how changes will be viewed.

 

Karen Gordon
Gordon Strategy
gordonstrategy.ca

Karen Gordon is Canada’s only communications consultant specializing in labour and employment communications.  She works with employers and their lawyers on issues ranging from collective bargaining and labour disruptions to pension and benefit issues.  

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