Let them eat cake

Oct 02 2007 by Print This Article

The Corporate Cynic is back with another tale of workplace woe that highlights how a lack of communication from senior management can so easily leave those below them hopelessly confused and uninformed.

There are few words that can strike more terror into the hearts of employees than "reorganization." This is what the Cynic experienced when the upper-management at his company issued a memo that they were going to rearrange themselves.

The memo went on and on, revealing nothing, attempting to be encouraging, and then ended with "if you have any further questions, please see your manager or supervisor."

The Cynic was a supervisor so, naturally, his employees came to him. But he had no further information, either. So, everyone waited.

At the next managerial meeting, the upper-management asked if everyone had read the memo and when all of the middle-managers said yes, they quickly moved off-topic. When questions were asked, they were told to re-read the memo.

Eventually, word came that one of the smaller companies in the conglomerate would be sold. More questions were asked.

When a survey was done to see what the employee's attitudes were about the reorganization, management was surprised to see everyone was confused. What was the solution? Managers were told to sponsor softball teams and give employees cake on important occasions.

It just has to make one wonder what managers are thinking at times. Employees just want to be treated like adults and be given information without lies. Instead, it seems that management prefers to let them eat cake.


Older Comments

If you link poor communication with a lack of honesty and willingness to admit they sometimes get things wrong on the part of senior managers you have a recipe for severely hacked-off employees. Take this example from my previous organsation. A new performance bonus scheme was introduced, linked to appraisal and designed to reward good performance. 50% of staff were in line for the annual bonus. Because the arrangements for selecting staff were perceived to be unfair there was significant discontent. In fact in a staff survey, conducted after bonuses were awarded for the first time, only 11% of those surveyed regarded the scheme favourably. Senior management justified the scheme on the basis that more appraisals were completed on time! This led to long-term discontent with the scheme and a belief that senior managers didn't really care. There were external pressures on senior managers to introduce a bonus scheme, but if only they had admitted that they didn't get it right first time round I am convinced that their reputation would have been enhanced and employees would have been more prepared to accept subsequent changes to the scheme and other organisational changes when they were introduced.

Ian Wilder UK-wide