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?