Communicating the Company Decision
I don’t expect everyone to like and embrace every company decision at a personal level. If EVERYONE likes every company decision we make, then we probably don’t have enough diversity in the company. My goal is to give the information needed so that employees UNDERSTAND and RESPECT why the decision was made from a business perspective. My goal is for the employees to understand HOW we came to the company decision. Employees may not like the decision at a personal level, but the goal is for an understanding of the decision from a business perspective. I think that most people can separate the two. My hope is that we can create a culture where employees not only want to know the reasons but will ask questions when they don’t have all the information.
When you hear a company decision for the very first time, try not to assume the worst. More than likely the company had reasons we just were not made aware of. Don’t Hate! Find out the business logic because, at the end of the day, it is YOUR career you are sabotaging with a less than committed or resentful effort/attitude, not your managers.
HR doesn’t always have the best reputation in a company. Although HR is usually the department that makes job offers, and brings on new employees, in the end, HR usually picks up a reputation for the following:
- Don’t ask HR, they will just say “no”
- Implements evil process and makes it harder to get anything done
- Looks out for the company and not the employee
HR can and should be more than the above. It is my personal HR philosophy that the company DOES absolutely come first. Make no mistake, I am here for the company first, the employees second. I also believe that when I am looking out for the company first, I am looking out for the employees. When the employees believe the company is looking out for their best interest and doing the best they can under the circumstances, the employees WILL take care of the company. Ping-Pong, Xbox, and Beer Fridays are NOT taking care of employees. Don’t get me wrong, we always have beer on hand, but I don’t think about these items when I think about taking care of the employee.
If we can give the employees tools that will make them more productive, worth more to the company, not just with us, but with ANY company, it has been my experience that the workforce becomes stronger, and the company CAN give them more than the industry standard of a 2% raise.
The number one way we take care of the employee is providing transparency when it comes to company decision and direction.
To me, thinking about the employee revolves around a few basic themes. One of the big themes is communication/information. “Information is power Marty, information is power”.
- Reinforce WHY the company is doing something versus just telling folks WHAT the company is going to do. The “WHY” is the business logic behind the reason. The “WHAT” usually translates to more work for the employee.
- Explaining decisions 3 different times, 3 different ways from 3 different sources because not everyone is in the room to hear the message and not everyone responds to the same type of message.
- Encourage a culture and mentality where employees feel empowered to ask questions and care about decisions made.
Every company makes decisions that affect the employees on a daily basis. To the executives of the company, the company decision might be painfully obvious.
- Executives may have had months behind a decision.
- The decision has been vetted, discussed, budgeted, forecasted, and pureed.
- Leadership usually has access to more information across many different departments, weighing the strengths, weakness, and position of the company or industry.
That isn’t always the case for the majority of the workforce:
- Workforce may lack insight into the long-term strategy of the company
- Workforce may not have insight into what other departments are doing
- Workforce may not have the experience to understand “scaling” a company, a tough economy, or the strategy around an operating plan that is thinking 3, 6, 18 months out
If a more experienced mind needed reports, multiple departments and weeks or months to come to a decision, can we expect someone with less exposure to the business or industry to understand the impact in a 10-minute stand-up meeting or an email announcement? An email or a quick stand up announcement to the workforce is usually just a fraction of the time that leadership had to digest a company decision and at the end of the day, not a fair expectation.
If the workforce doesn’t understand a company decision, they will either:
a) Not care
b) Resent the decision
I am not sure which of the above is worse. Less experienced generations want to hear the “WHY” behind the “WHAT”. We all know what happens when an idea doesn’t have any support. We all know what happens when a mob rally’s behind a bad idea. Lack of support doesn’t just hurt the company but also hurts the employee’s professional career. Want to see different generations get behind a single positive idea? Check out a FlashMob.
You can zig or zag with every facet of the company. The direction of your product, the clients you go after, or the health plan you choose. Let’s not even get started on software or hardware product decisions the company makes.
We all question the decisions the coaches of our favorite sports teams make. Which player they picked or traded in the draft. Why they picked a specific play when it was 1st and goal or who is up to bat when the bases are loaded. How many times have you wanted to ask (not accuse) the coach about the “WHY” behind the decision?
My goal is to explain not just WHAT company decisions have been made, but WHY the company decisions were made. Even when an employee doesn’t get the reasoning, doesn’t want to get the reasoning, or wants to tell the rest of the company why they think the company decision sucks, HR needs to keep stand fast. HR should not give up and just say “NO”. (Moving this type of employee out of the company is another topic, but in this moment, trying to communicate the WHY is the focus)
We try to make a conscious effort to explain why we are going after one set of clients vs. another. Why we made this health plan decision vs. another. Why we chose a hardware vendor over another. We also try to reinforce the message a number of times, a number of ways, from different people and different angles. It may sound like overkill, and a lot of work, but at the end of the day, I believe that it is worth it. The more people who “get it”, the better the group will be.
Don’t get me wrong; I know I miss a lot of opportunities to communicate. There have been times when I thought I am over communicating, and I have been told I didn’t communicate enough. When I thought I didn’t say enough, people said they understood. It is a work in progress, but if we can try to focus on the WHY and not just the WHAT, I think everyone’s job will go a lot easier, and the company will be better for it. Over-communicate your next company decision.
See you at the after party,
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.