Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Communications and mushrooms

Communications. When they are working well in the workplace, things are usually pretty good. When they break down, chaos results.

On Monday I was asked by a co-worker, “John, did you put out a press release recently about expansion plans for us?”

I couldn’t give a simple “no,” because about a month earlier I HAD sent a blurb to the local paper (at their request) updating a story they run annually about our plant for a Chamber of Commerce tabloid. So I explained. The co-worker listened.

Then he asked, “So you didn’t tell the paper about some $25 million expansion with new jobs happening soon? That’s what the headlines say.”


News to me! (Pun intended.)

And the calls began coming in, each asking for details I didn’t have. I felt like the typical embattled and indicted politician being asked to refute the legal charges against him. I had to answer, “I’m sorry. I haven’t even seen the article, so I can’t respond.”

This at a time when some plant employees are unhappy anyway, and have complained that they never know what’s going on. Well, I could relate.

I DID know we were planning to invest some significant money in plant projects to increase production and improve quality. But that was to be spread over the next 5 years. And we’d never (to my knowledge) quantified the total investment, or talked about new jobs.

It turns out that our owner and his lawyer had approached the local County Commissioners Court applying for some property tax abatement, and justified the request with a 5-year plan of capital investment. In addition it was mentioned that additional personnel (employees) might be needed if conditions continued to improve.

Once the Commissioners met and discussed the application it became “public record.” The local reporter picked it up, and they put it on the front page.

(Yeah, it was a REALLY slow news day.)

Then I had to call back those folks who had asked for details and explain what was going on. I also sent out an “all hands” email to employees to let them know what the article was about.

It sure would have been nice to know that the application was being made and thus that the public might read about it in the paper.

But you know why many compare their workplace to a mushroom farm, right?


Kirsten said...

Well, on the bright side, at least the story was a positive one -- not "local CEO falls off lilypad after all night frog dance" or "30 percent workforce reduction needed; layoffs to be achieved through 'survival-style voting,' says top exec."

There, have I cheered you up???


Hale McKay said...

Don't you just love to find things out like that? Another thing I don't miss about the corporate world to go along with casual Fridays.

robotJAM said...

Duke, I don't know if something got lost in the translation over the atlantic but I have no idea "why many compare their workplace to a mushroom farm", I have never met anyone who does.

Actually come to think of it I've never seen a mushroom farm.

Also come to think of it twice why is it that mushrooms go mouldy ?

Jennifer said...

Ah, the joys of the corporate world. I handle the PR here, and still never know what's going on.

Karyn Lyndon said...

You would think the reporter would have done some "further investigation" with, oh, I don't know...maybe some quotes from the CEO or maybe even the HR guy.

Shesawriter said...

I hated Corporate Hell while I was there and wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. LOL!


Duke_of_Earle said...

Yes, things could ALWAYS be worse than they are. And you're right -- I could have REALLY BEEN indicted!

Others: Oh, I guess I just like to complain. There IS a lot about the corporate world that should be better. But hey, I have a choice! Since I can't seem to sell my book I could always sing for a living.

(I'm getting hungry just THINKING about that!)