The solution is not dilution

It’s Q4 and you know what that means: incessant Christmas music. And dread.

Undoubtedly, there are a few sales folks freaking out right about now as they stare down the barrel of their objectives and realize they’re not going to hit their 2012 numbers. Yeah, that sucks. It’s also the time of year that many businesses pull the trigger on restructures for the very same reason. In the last few weeks we’ve heard rumblings from a number of big Canadian organizations that are undergoing “the change”: the Government of Canada, RIM (perpetually), CP Rail, Loblaw, Sun Media, Canadian Tire. Ho ho ho.

I get it. I’ve been there (December 7, 2007 to be exact). As a communicator, I even issued the announcement that shared the news that I was downsized. It happens. Businesses need to be efficient, remain profitable, etc.

But if you’ve got to do it, do it right (apologies for the Wham reference…). Be transparent. The solution to this unfortunate communication challenge is not dilution. Don’t parse out information to remaining employees in bits and pieces. Some organizations do this because they don’t have a communication department or competent communicators who understand the need for a strong, unified voice in times of turmoil. Some even do it in a desperate attempt to hide the full impact of their choices. This is a mistake. When you don’t open your kimono, the rumour mill kicks into high gear and once it’s humming, it takes on a life of its own, one that’s hard to stamp out.

Avoid this by simply telling your employees the truth, warts and all: what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, next steps, how you’re treating those who’ve lost their jobs in the process. Man up to your decisions and lay out your new map to Mecca. Otherwise, you’ll have a real mess on your hands in 2013.

For more good tips (if I do say so myself) on this touchy subject, go here