I’m Worried About This Transformation: A (Fictional) Letter From Your Employee

Hello,

I understand our company is about to change. In a big way, from what I’ve been told. In fact, I’ve heard it will be a complete transformation of our direction, business and the way we operate.

I also understand you play an important role in keeping employees informed, which is why I want to talk to you. I’d like you to think about this transformation from my point of view. Because, in the end, these changes will happen to me.

I promise not to take much of your time – I get that you’re busy. And apparently this transformation thing could take months. Maybe even years. But if we’re going to get through it together, I want to be honest about what my coworkers and I need from you.

  • Paint the big picture. Clearly. From day one, help me understand why we’re doing this. What’s the end state? Why is the future going to be better? Not just from a customer and shareholder perspective. Tell me why it will be better to work here.
  • Don’t airbrush that picture with promises you can’t keep. Be straightforward about what it’s going to take to transform. Don’t promise there won’t be layoffs, re-orgs or overhauls of job duties – even if you don’t foresee them yet. Admit it will get difficult. And then tell me what you’re going to do to make it less difficult. I can take it.
  • Give me details – the right stuff, at the right time. In the interest of “transparency,” you might be tempted to open the floodgates of information – but that’s overwhelming. Be thoughtful about picking and choosing what’s important to tell me and when. Target the information specifically to me and my job. Then I’ll pay attention.
  • Whenever possible, talk to me in person. I’d love to chat with our leaders face-to-face about what’s going on. It gives me the chance to ask questions. And if you allow me to ask tough questions, I’ll do my best to accept “I don’t know” or “We aren’t sure about that yet” for some answers. Just be honest and say what you can.
  • Ask my opinion. Hey, I get this isn’t a democracy, and I don’t always get a vote. But I like to be asked – especially when the project involves my role, expertise or customers. And please, don’t rely only on faceless surveys. There are many ways to show you respect me and care what I think.
  • Never send me project team communication. For the love of Pete, don’t send me your microscopic Gantt charts, dense decks and project team milestones. It doesn’t help and I’ll never read it.
  • Don’t patronize me. Go ahead and brand the transformation with a logo and tagline if it helps hold the communication together. But remember that posters, coffee mugs and t-shirts and are not an engagement strategy.
  • Don’t outsource my engagement, either. I understand you need to get outside help with this transformation. But don’t let the consultants send me generic, templated information they’ve used with a dozen other clients. I need you to communicate with me. If I’m hearing from them more than you, it’s too late – you’ve already lost me.
  • Tell me what happens to me. I’ll be patient with the transformation vision and overall communication to a point, but what I really want to know is what happens to my job. As soon as you you’re able, let me know. With as much detail as you can.
  • Make it OK for me to strike a balance. I know this transformation is serious business. But I can’t worry about it every minute. I still have daily responsibilities, and I want my job to be legitimately enjoyable each day. So, allow me to come up for air once in a while. And I’ll hang in there for the tough stuff.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m nervous about this whole thing. But I like this company, I like my job and I want to stick around. And I hope the future is even better. Please do your best to take me along for the ride – and I’ll do my part to keep us moving in the right direction.

Thanks for listening,

Your Loyal Employee

 

[Our Perspective by Michael Voss and Jennifer Rock. Michael and Jennifer have 40+ years of experience managing employee communications for complex company transformations – including changes in strategic direction, M&As, operational redesigns, CEO/leadership turnover, re-organizations and layoffs. © rockdotvoss.com]



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