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May 14, 2009

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That was interesting, David, his analysis of how employees will mistrust a sudden attitude of openness on the part of an employer who had been reticent and suspicious beforehand. I have to agree, having worked for one of those companies who entrusted real information only to the C-suite elite. Although I've left their employ, I know that had that happened, a turnaround in attitude like that, very few employees would not have suspected some sort of manipulation at work. In a case where a company has been so "grudging," as Heron puts it, I doubt that anything short of a management overhaul (such as canning the current CEO and his favored few and putting a whole new team in place) would convince employees that the effort was sincere.

Yes, I'm listening. And I'm happy that he addressed the issue. In many ways, the senario he's describing mirrors my organization - one previously lacking any corporate internal comm model at all, and now spending several years slowly building the trust and sharing information openly. Of course, we still have employees who question even the most solid facts we share. But, as I've mentioned earlier, that group does seem to be shrinking.

And for those who like to measure: despite the reality that we've been honest with employees that over the next two years the crap economy will likely result in layoffs of up to five per cent of our workforce, our annual engagement survey in April showed our third consecutive annual increase in employee engagement across the organization. So maybe we are getting somewhere...

Right on, Joan. Short of the senior executive standing before all employees and explaining to them that he or she has had a revelation--"you see, there's this book called 'Sharing Information with Employees' that I read about on this blog called Writing Boots"--what else could they assume but Machiavellian intent?

And Rueben--maybe never having had any internal communication model is your greatest advantage. Whatever you're doing, it sounds like it's working. Congratulations and as always, keep us posted.

You tipped me off with what you said about "behavior change."

Change management consultants think they own communication. They own it because in their minds, they're smarter than we communicators about the "change needs" of the "stakeholders." They get to be the thinkers; we get to be the people who push the publishing buttons. The fact that they don't know how to write, think, or communicate doesn't stop these awful drones from holding their "engagement sessions" and "messaging meetings."

Mark my words, friends, this menace is on its way to you if it hasn't gotten there already. They come with charts and graphs and "change curves" and seductive promises to management that are the very opposite of what we're talking about in this series you've shared, David.

Lord have mercy on us poor commuicators. And on the poor employees who will be forced to suffer along with us.

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Writing Boots readers will enjoy David Murray's memoir of his parents, who were real-life advertising Mad Men. Learn who these people really were, and how they raised us all.