Monday, March 26, 2012
I want to know!!!!!
My previous post revealed a huge conflict generated by misused words on a national scale. I now would like to discuss conflict and tensions that arise from the absence of words, on a much smaller scale. In May 2011, I did a three-week work placement in Paris, at the French market leading tourism-marketing agency. You would think that such professionals would handle internal communication like masters? Nope.
On my first day, as I was familiarising myself with the task I was asked to do, me and the girls in my department watched four men in black followed by the CEO doing what looked like an office viewing. As they left, I understood that nobody knew what was going on, and apparently it was not the first time something like this had occurred. Then, very predictably, it escalated. At lunch, rumours started to appear, from somebody who might have heard something from somebody. Conclusions arose from complete speculations. But what was blindingly obvious was the frustration of all the employees who were left in the dark. And it went on like that for a week, only aggravating the anger of my colleagues.
At the very end of my work placement, I learnt that the CEO sent a brief email explaining that the organisation would be moving at the end of the month into open cubicles. Cheers for that! I have to say I am quite happy that I left before all of that happened because I know that these news, instead of relieving the employees, upset them even more.
What should he have done? A meeting to tell the employees that he was planning on moving to new offices. Regular emails to keep them in the know. Maybe even ask them for their opinions or at least let them express themselves. In one word, be a bit more diplomatic!
Too many words (and especially when misused) can cause damage. But the absence of words in a world of transparency can be as dangerous if not more to an organisation. A month after I left, my work placement tutor quit. No wonder.