February’s Lunch ‘n Learn about Connecting the Heart to the Soul of the company turned out to be a great learning event for everyone. Christine Davlin, CHT, Toursim Education & Training Manager for the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau along with Michael Winder, Corporate Trainer for Arthrex, Inc. were the guest speakers. Their energy and enthusiasm for the topic was infectious, and the message was clear – keep the lines of communication open with everyone when times are tough.
Christine opened the program reminding all of us that how we treat employees internally will always reflect externally within the public. In the age of technology, don’t forget that when you are communicating, you are still dealing with a human, not a machine. The “heart” of an organization is its people and the “soul” is the vision and mission – what the organization is trying to accomplish. She reminded us to be sure that the mission always coincides with the message because conflicting communications can cause severe problems both internally and externally. The message you send has to be clear and consistent on ALL levels. An employee who feels involved and engaged is more likely to stay. To keep morale up, make a commitment to comprehend their concerns – really listen when someone else is speaking. We latch on to “emotional words” and tend to rush to judgment. Be careful to stay on message; focus on the overall message instead of each part.
Michael struck a cord in the room with just about every attendee when he made the statement that employee morale doesn’t always equal happiness. Employees want clarity. In order to obtain clarity, employees need direction, communication, instruction and clear expectations. They want to feel that they are there for a purpose. Employees typically don’t quit companies, they quit their boss! Supervisor issues occur when there is poor communication, conflict, lack of guidance, lack of recognition and lack of appreciation. He went on to explain that leaders in any organization of two basic roles – remove barriers and create an atmosphere for success. He talked about how this has never been more apparent than with Gen X or Gen Y employees. Employees from these generations typically value time more than money. They look for a company that is socially and environmentally aware, and flexible. They are committed and will work hard, but your company has to work hard for them too.
When times are tough, don’t mix the message. If you tell your employees one thing and then convey a different message to the public, you create more harm than good. Don’t be afraid of bad times – explain that things are tough, even let them know when there will be layoffs. Be honest and open. As a PR professional, encourage your clients to be as transparent as possible. Work with them to create a message that everyone can live with in the long run. Keep in mind that tough times only last for so long and that as a team, you can get through it if you keep clarity in your communications and consistency in the message.