South-Western - Management  
The Best Policy Now: Less 'Spin' and More Honesty
Topic Communication
Key Words Communication, credibility
News Story

Towers and Perrin recently conducted a survey discussing corporate credibility. They discovered that a third of the employees surveyed reported that the information they receive from their employers was less credible than it was three years ago. Further, they reported that 51% believe employers generally tell the employees the truth, while 19% believe the opposite.

The survey also found that 60% of respondents believe their companies communicate more honestly with shareholders than with employees. Forty-eight per cent of workers said they receive more credible information from supervisors than from the CEO.

Another study found that companies that communicate effectively have lower turnover rates. These companies also had employees who felt connected to the business, felt that they had solid links to the company culture, and were able to adjust to the changing markets faster. During organizational change these companies showed strong leadership which effectively connected management and employees.

Towers and Perrin offered seven steps to help employers improve communication with employees and increase the credibility of its leaders.

  1. Take it from the top. Senior leadership sets the tone by being visible, accessible to and open with employees.
  2. Understand your audience. Use internal measuring tools, such focus groups and surveys, to understand what employees are thinking.
  3. Align company messages and information channels. Auditing the communication processes, and the media that is delivering the message, will insure positive results.
  4. Train leaders and managers. The most highly successful leaders in communication were trained in communication skills as part of their leadership training program.
  5. Tell the whole story. When giving information keep it in context to the business rationale of the company.
  6. Ensure a two-way dialogue. Encourage employees to ask questions and state their concerns.
  7. Expect the unexpected. During an emergency, develop a plan to handle employees' concerns and actions.

Questions
1.

One of the seven steps listed in this article to improving communication is to understand your audience. It recommends using focus groups and surveys. What other methods could be used to include employees in ongoing communications?

2.

List the benefits to the organization when employees feel there is good communication.

Source "The Best Policy Now: Less 'Spin' and More Honesty," HRFocus, April 2004, pp. 4-6.
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