The Evolution of Communication Expectations
John D. Finney, senior communication and change management consultant with Towers Watson, discusses how employee expectations of the communications from their superiors have evolved over time and what they need now. This is part of the April 2011 Building Operating Management cover story coverage.
John D. Finney
Senior Communication and Change Management Consultant
"In the past you used to be able to communicate a decision and your employees would accept that decision and move forward. And as organizations have changed and downsized, the level of trust in organizations, for employees to management, has been impacted.
So we saw a number of years back a switch to: 'Well, don’t just tell me the decision. I want you to educate me on what options you’ve considered, why you chose the option you did and then I’ll decide if I’m going to buy in or not.'
What happened was we started to do that, the information overload became great, if you can imagine doing that around all decisions, and so the next stage was: 'Just inform me, give me a quick easy read, some bullet points, what you considered, the direction we’re going, and why — the rationale — and then I can buy into it.'
But even that started to get onerous. I think what we’re finding today is employees are asking for direction. So it hasn’t come full circle to giving the decision, but they’re asking for direction. 'I have a lot on my plate, I have a lot to do, there’s a lot happening and I need to stay abreast of a whole bunch of things. Just tell me the key points, tell me what I need to know, tell me what I need to ask and give me that direction so I can move forward quickly.'"