BizDecoder.com is a forum for open discussion about how employer organizations really work. There are no victims or victors. There is simply a reality of how organizations operate in order to compete, thrive, and gain market share with the goal of not dying. If a company dies, it employs no one; no one benefits. If a company thrives it sometimes gains a reputation of greed. However, this greed is a part of being competitive which enables the company to grow an offer rewarding careers to employees.
As companies refine their ways of operating in order to protect profits, they often make changes that impact employees, customer, shareholders and local communities. Those impacts can be good, and those impacts can be bad.
Each of us is accountable for understanding the truth about the opportunities and rewards our employers offer in order to ensure the employer-employee relationship is a fair exchange. And if it is not, we are accountable for developing in-demand skills so we can move on to a more desirable and rewarding work experience elsewhere.
As a corporate communications consultant I’ve worked with Fortune 500 global organizations that serve clients in a broad spectrum of industries. My role has been to use communications to drive forth leadership objectives, usually with a focus on helping clients implement organizational transformations to become more efficient, more effective, more competitive, and more attractive to their customers, their employees, and their shareholders. And as companies grow and transform, they must communicate with the communities in which they operate to maintain a positive relationship and continue to be a welcomed presence locally.
When companies communicate, they are always speaking to multiple stakeholder groups at once
You can imagine that as a company grows, becomes more efficient, and realizes greater profits, it’s easy to make some people very happy, starting with shareholders. (Show me the money!) But we can’t cheer too loudly about profits when that growth doesn’t always have a direct impact on the paychecks of the employees who do all the work. In kind, there is a risk that customers may question whether greater margins driven by efficiency will cause a reduction in investment in service or product quality. And any time a company grows, the communities in which it works may have concerns about local impacts.
Why corporate messages sometimes sound like double-speak
There is no one good answer for all stakeholders. So the words we use when announcing corporate change and leadership decisions are carefully selected. We anchor to words like “value” which convey a blended message of quality and efficiency, enabling the CEO to expound with facts that appeal to different audiences in different settings. And in most cases, the safest words are used to ensure the stock valuation does not take a negative hit based on any outcry from any of the constituent groups.
The $10,000 Paragraph
A seemingly-simple one-paragraph email distributed by a CEO to employees may be edited by over 30 people over the span of many weeks. Wording edits, discussions, debates and approvals are needed from regional leaders, legal leadership, board members, marketing heads, customer relationship leaders and more. The goal is to ensure corporate announcements are perceived as positive by employees, customers and Wall Street alike.
With so much language scrubbing, how can you get the down-low to decode the true impacts to you?
How do YOU decode whether your organization’s direction is truly the right path for you? Is company growth going to grow your career, grow your paycheck, and grow your ability to express your strengths?
The first truth is, you’re not likely to gain access to the whole truth from inside your company. Confidentiality of corporate strategy is a necessary part of staying competitive and protecting stock value. After all, the company’s ability to stay competitive is what enabled your company to grow strong enough to employ you; so that’s a good thing.
Yet there is great value in having access to a neutral watercooler-style discussion forum like this where we can talk in a very real way about the business of you in business.
Mary is a corporate communications consultant who also pursues passions that will help others.
Mary’s corporate communications work involves written, digital, spoken and video/multi-media communications and strategy for corporate change management, HR initiatives, culture initiatives, and organizational mergers, acquisitions and transformations. Connect with Mary on LinkedIn here.
While Mary has lived in many cities within the US and abroad, she now resides on Florida’s gulf coast and is the mom of two incredible young men and one beloved black lab.
She bookends her days with something she calls “infinite self-kaizen.” She loves Mondays, does not make new year’s resolutions, and seeks to work until the day she dies. Connect with Mary to ask why…