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Expectations

November 14th, 2016 Comments off

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.  

It’s About Knowing Your Audience

June 28th, 2016 Comments off

To know what you know and what you do not know, that is true knowledge.

     —Confucius

Collective bargaining communications are amongst the most challenging and stressful type of communications that any employer will have to engage in. Whether you are at the strike deadline or communicating the contents of a tentative agreement, nothing about collective bargaining communications is simple. Politics, audiences, and legal requirements all dictate what you can and cannot say and how you say it.

The key to success is to have a communications plan that works in conjunction with your legal, labour relations and disruption plans. The first step in a communications plan is to know your audiences—who they are, how they think, and how best to communicate with them.

Each employer has a different set of audiences. They range from the board of directors to the hourly employees and can also include everything from elected officials and parent councils to hockey moms and activists.

Among those audiences is a broad range of considerations—tech savviness, knowledge level, understanding of labour relations processes, key influencers and most important, the audience’s perception of the current labour relations situation.

While it may seem clear, it is never that simple.

This is why you need to be listening to the talk on the shop floor, traditional media, and social media. The more you know about who your audience is and what they are thinking and saying, the more effective your targeted communications will be.

However, some people fall into the trap of saying different things to different audiences.  In the social media world, this will only get you into trouble.  While the tools, tactics, and tone are interchangeable between audiences – the messages must remain consistent.

Once you understand your audience, you can determine the messaging, tactics, and communications rollout. Stay tuned for blogs on these topics.

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