To empower others, you must take their measurements regularly…
Post 7: At Josh’s invitation Pat and Olga agreed to share their experience to the transition plan to adjust employee compensation and comply with the new DOL laws. In a little more than 8 weeks they would implement the FLSA addendum, and Sharon had agreed that they needed help with the last few pieces of the plan. At the solicited suggestion of their new partners, James, a member of the finance group, was also invited. This effort was to keep everyone on the same page since his department was crafting the actual pay-adjustments for each employee.
Sharon smiled as Pat praised their prioritization of the two key initiatives: to communicate to employees and to train those who would need to manage critical aspects of the transition. “Yes,” she said, “Josh can think quickly when he wants to; he came up with those when he was determined to end our last meeting early. Can we talk about communication today and save the training topic for the next time we’re together?”
“I think that would keep the agenda manageable,” replied Olga as the others nodded agreement. “When considering what to communicate, I like to start by asking what my audience will want to know. You identified two key audiences: the company as a whole and the impacted employees. So I propose we start by asking what impacted employees will want to know, and then, if there are other groups that need specific messages, they should become obvious to us.”
Following that path, they discussed which aspects of the law employees need to know to help reduce their fear and resistance. They also discussed messaging that may build employee confidence in the company and in influencing career opportunities.
Pat added, “As we prepared for our operations restructure last year, we educated employees about some general business observations and speculations. During informal, sometimes individual, conversations, we asked them to ‘weigh-in’ by giving us their feelings about what might happen. The effort was advantageous: when actual plans were announced, those individuals understood the logic in the new direction, and they seemed to be less resistant than others were. We continued to seek employee perspectives at each step and found their buy-in was more consistent.”
“I think that concept needs to be a part of the messaging,” Sharon thought aloud, “but the practice and judgement needed to lead those conversations may need to also be in the leader training. I’m making a note for later.”
“Good foresight, Sharon,” encouraged Olga, “Many companies leave themselves vulnerable by failing to prepare their leaders with the messaging and practices that will help everyone stay together during these highly stressful times. I’ll bring some bullets on leader-learning for the next meeting.”
“Josh and I were talking earlier about the messaging to all employees.” Pat refocused on the communication topic, “We feel that communication should be less about the reason for the change and more about the common goal the entire company must strive to reach during this transition. Focusing everyone will help those who do not have to make changes watch for systemic effects so dangers can be addressed early.”
“Yes,” Josh added, “but do you think our little team is equipped to say what that strategic goal is? Perhaps we can each escalate the need for a common ‘rallying cry’ to our executive levels and ask them to craft it.”
The group agreed, and they discussed how critical it was for the company-wide communication to come out soon – and before the individual compensation changes were shared. Pat committed to ensure the executive group understood the need and followed up with speedy delivery to the team.
In wrapping up, Sharon solicited input from James, who had continued quietly taking notes during the entire meeting.
He paused, “I don’t think I have much to contribute today, but I’ve learned tons. I feel like you asked me here to make sure I communicate back to the finance team what you are thinking and planning. Is that right?”
“Yes,” Sharon admitted. “Olga especially felt there could be a mess if our team sent one message to employees and finance built compensation plans that seemed to communicate a different implication. But we would like to hear any thoughts you have on our discussion as well.”
“Oh, I’ll speak up when I have something to share or ask,” James smiled, “but I’m glad I have good notes to take back.”
Sharon reviewed the commitments from their meeting and committed to sending her notes in a follow-up invitation by the next morning.
Reality: An organization’s common goal during transition must be clearly understood across the company. Following Peter Lencioni’s reminder that this temporary rallying cry should be qualitative, instead of quantitative, allows the message to be translated to the performance level of each employee.
FOLLOW US & don’t miss the next PEPPERBOX blog: What have their new partners learned from their experiences with actual business change? How could decisions made during this change effect careers?