I’ve been working on a communication project gathering info about works well and not so well in terms of the flow of communication through and across a business.
We’ve been running focus groups – great fun: I was able to get a couple of humdinger arguments going – and one to one interviews.
It was during one of these interviews that I was shocked… yes, even I who has heard and seen everything when it comes to HR, was shocked.
This guy writes stuff for the business – instruction manuals for customers and that sort of thing. He gathers information from other teams, tidies it up, makes it look pretty and gives it back to them.
Okay so far.
I got onto the subject of information about how the business is doing as a whole; you know the sort of thing – six monthly briefings giving details of results against targets and plans for the coming six months. The business is fairly small (a couple of hundred people) and so they often take everyone off site for half a day and sometimes there’s an evening meal involved, too.
Bear in mind that the majority of people I’d spoken with already were pretty complimentary of this process. They’re happy that the business shares information so they know what they are contributing to.
I was surprised therefore when I asked about this aspect of communication and the response was: ‘It’s shit.’
My eyebrows shot up.
‘No, really it is… I had to sit through 5 hours of guff and fluff just for the reward of eating an awful meal.’
I struggled to remain impartial, and was very proud of the fact I did. But I did suggest that surely it’s good to know how the business is doing.
‘Why?’ Was the immediate response. ‘It makes no difference to me and I don’t care how the business is doing as long as I get paid every month.’
And this wasn’t a long-in-the-tooth cynical veteran, he was a young guy.
I choked back my surprise and moved on to ask about communication between teams.
‘I don’t want any communications with other teams. It just gets in the way of doing my job.’
This was too much. Surely you need to get feedback, for example, that the work you’ve done for your internal customer is what they wanted…
‘No I don’t because I don’t care. Sure I ask them for feedback but I make sure the email goes when I know they’re really busy. After all, if I sent it when they might actually look at it and give me feedback and I might have to do extra work…’
I was intrigued where this attitude came from. His manager was next for an interview. Guess what she said: ‘I don’t need to know anything…’
Ladies and gentlemen – you may now draw your own conclusions.