In January, Steve Harvey learned that his long-time daytime TV talk show would be canceled in the fall. Shockingly, he got the news through a network announcement about a new show that would be appearing in that time slot. Unfortunately, this example is far from unique. In case you have any doubts, this is not a good example of how to share information with employees.
Large companies keep much information close to the vest, but, employees often get that information through the rumor mill— not always accurately. Small businesses probably have a larger rumor mill per capita since it takes fewer people to pass information on to the entire team. This is just one reason to keep employees informed. Read on to learn what type of information to share and how to do it effectively.
Employees Can Benefit From Properly-Delivered Good and Bad News
Informed employees can be more valuable to their companies. This is particularly true of small businesses, where every person has a more direct stake in daily outcomes. You’ll be on the right track if you make good decisions regarding information-sharing in the following four areas.
Your employees need to be directly informed about layoffs, changes in hours worked, salary and benefits changes, and anything that affects their daily lives. By taking control over the message and being on hand for questions, you ensure that it’s accurate. The rumor mill seldom accomplishes this.
On the other hand, anything related to individual employee compensation is private. Keep it locked tight from anyone other than direct managers or others who absolutely need to know.
Employees are probably not interested in every financial detail, and they certainly don’t want to peruse crowded financial spreadsheets. But they’re very much interested in how the company is doing overall, and informed employees often find it motivating. I recently read about one company that keeps a sales thermometer prominently displayed and updated daily. Its employees typically do more to ensure that the “temperature” continues to rise.
if they learn that excessive unnecessary expenses are significantly eating into profits, they may hold onto their pencils longer before ordering new ones. More important, they’ll recognize the difference between valid and invalid expenses. Certain expenses, such as buying more efficient equipment and software, can lead to company growth. Unessential expenses, like expensive meals, pricey hotels, and booking last-minute flights cut into profits without any real payback.
In other words, employees are more likely to develop targeted new ideas based on their understanding of current conditions. If employees believe that the company’s facing financial challenges, they will try to propose only spending ideas that promise an impressive ROI. When the business is doing well, their spending ideas may focus on conquering increased demand challenges and addressing other relevant issues.
Future operational changes
Help employees prepare for any significant changes that are in the pipeline. Are layoffs coming? Are efficiency experts about to descend to analyze how things are done before making major changes? Has another business expressed interest in merging with your company or acquiring it outright?
Yes, some employees may choose to leave, particularly in today’s high-demand employment market. Still, this type of news generally gets out and becomes more dramatic via the rumor mill, potentially causing an exit-door stampede. Give the news to them straight. Your most loyal employees will likely stick around, especially if you respect their ideas about how you implement the changes.
Employees come and go for many reasons, and everyone in your business deserves to know the basics. When someone is leaving (or has left), it’s important to make a general announcement to everyone, Of course, it’s also appropriate to personally inform all people who are directly affected. Use discretion when revealing the reasons behind exits. These days, it may also occasionally be wise to ask for notification if anyone sees former employees approaching the premises.
New employee arrivals are typically announced on the first day of employment as part of the onboarding process, and personal introductions occur during the first few days. However, if you hire someone for a new position — particularly a supervisory one — it may make sense to inform your team prior to their arrival. Explain the reason for the new position and the new hire’s qualifications to provide needed lead time to ensure that your existing team can welcome them with a smile.
Make Sure That Your Employees Also Use Discretion
Does your company culture cover the information that employees should not share with each other? While it may seem obvious that they will not share salary information with each other, never make such an assumption. Similarly, you can probably expect a certain degree of gossip to happen when you announce a sudden, unexpected employee departure.
Unless you’re a major micromanager, you cannot control all of the words that come out of employees’ mouths. Still, it is smart to clearly communicate your information sharing policies. Even more important, make sure that company secrets do not travel outside of the business to contractors, vendors, and clients.
Always Follow the Golden Rule of Information Sharing
Some information must be shared. Delivering other news might be optional. Either way, always put yourself in the recipients’ shoes before deciding how to say it — and how to mitigate bad news, if possible.
Bad news, like layoffs, affects everyone, even those who still have their jobs, but now with more responsibilities. Even good news, such as promotion or new hire announcements, can create trepidation since your existing team members may have concerns about how these changes affect their positions or their chances for promotion.
First, imagine the full range of concerns that will be generated by your announcement. By addressing anticipated objections up-front, you can get the right message out to your team.