Dinesh works as the Internal Communication Director for Tibre Corp, a leading multinational in apparel technology which has over 10,000 employees in 3 cities across the country.The company is going through tough times – hit by a lawsuit on the technology it uses, has reported a loss of 2 crores for the 3rd year and is losing employees by the dozen. The leadership is concerned about the decline in employee morale and erosion of trust with the top management.
Joanna, the HR Head is keen to change the way the employees perceive the current situation and invites Dinesh for a discussion. Reflect on their conversation and share what you think will help them with chalking out their plan of action.
Joanna: “Hello Dinesh! Thanks for taking the time to meet up. I wanted to speak to you about the need for some serious interventions in our company.”
Dinesh: “Good to meet you Joanna. Go ahead – let me know how I can be of help.”
Joanna: “You know how things are currently and the mood in the organization is reflective of the situation. We are losing market share, the business leaders are unable to defend the lawsuit and the losses we are making and our employees are getting frustrated.”
Dinesh: “Hmm. It is a challenging time indeed.”
Joanna: “In recent focus groups I have had with many employees across our locations what comes out strongly is the need for them to hear more from leaders and to see them in person. They are also expecting us to take some dramatic action that will prove our commitment to their existence in the company.”
Dinesh: “What do you mean when you say they want to hear more from leaders? Also, what is your idea of a dramatic action?”
Joanna: “As in, they want leaders to communicate often – talk about what is going on, what we are doing as a business and how we can get over the situation. Dramatic action – I meant, like a symbolic step which provides them with confidence of what we are as a company. You know, stuff like removing policies that employees don’t like, or declaring our commitment to diversity, changing our office timings to make it more flexible, sending more employees on overseas assignments etc
Dinesh: “That’s interesting – aren’t leaders anyhow supposed to be meeting and engaging teams? Are they not doing so currently? On the second part – in terms of a symbolic gesture – how about leaders deciding to give up their salaries for a month or two or take a pay cut?”
Joanna: “Well, they are expected to meet their teams but you know with such challenging times they are always on the go – meeting clients and trying to keep the business afloat. They hardly find time to connect. Asking leaders to give us salaries or take a pay cut is asking a lot!”
Dinesh: “What about asking them to give us some privileges like the stock options or letting go of their bonuses? “
Joanna: “Well, that is tough to sell. You know they will not agree.”
Dinesh: “Hmm. Then I am unclear on the objectives of these symbolic gestures. What are you hoping to gain from it?”
Joanna: “You see – we want employees to think that the company is with them and that we are in this together. By taking some steps which will give them confidence.”
Dinesh: (looking amused) “Isn’t that a gimmick?”
Joanna: “No, it isn’t. We really want to rally our employees – we want them to feel good.”
Dinesh realizes that this conversation isn’t helpful and heading nowhere. He decides to excuse himself, buy more time to reflect on the situation and come back to the HR Head.
What can Dinesh do to make sense of what is being asked? How can he help his leaders see how their intention of symbolic gestures can negatively impact their interests?
Keen to hear what you have to say. Do share your views here.