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Communication: The amnesia of managers?

Reading time: 5 Min.

No matter where zweikern goes. We hear one sentence again and again. "We lack communication and transparency within the company." We ask ourselves how it can be that ONE problem occurs in so many companies and that for years. Do people who at some point move up to management level suffer from sudden amnesia in the areas of "communication and transparency"? Do they forget that you feel like a fish on dry land if you don't get all the important information? Or why is communication constantly promised in the company, but there is nothing to be seen of transparency in practice. Empty promises for free, but no changes in behaviour. In this article, we want to thoroughly examine communication and transparency within companies.

The beautiful theory of communication

EXAMPLE: MERGERS

When I, as an optimistic and motivated third semester student, had my first contact with industrial and organizational psychology, I was free to choose a topic in the seminar. After brief research and discussions with acquaintances, the area was clear: "Mergers and Acquisitions". Known in the German-speaking world as Fusion. A merger, i.e. the unification of two companies, represents the greatest possible process of change. Mergers of companies are expected to have many advantages. The number of mergers is constantly increasing. But here it comes: Did you know that more than half of mergers fail? The reason for this lies in the negative reactions of the employees. What's going on? Psychology wouldn't be psychology if it didn't have some kind of disease term for this problem, called Merger Syndrome. Merger syndrome describes a series of characteristic reactions by employees that often occur after mergers. These can be stress reactions, blocking the flow of information, grouping and active resistance. The end result is stress-related illnesses among employees and fluctuation, and the company's economic success collapses. If you are interested in change, I recommend the articles by Katharina. The solution to the abovementioned problems is exciting. It is described as a "realistic merger forecast" and is nothing more than a communication program for companies that is supposed to provide transparency in order to avoid the merger syndrome.

SOLUTION: COMMUNICATION AND TRANSPARENCY

The realistic merger forecast has one goal. Employees should receive precise information about the change process as early as possible and what significance it has for them as a person. This type of communication leads to a regular and honest flow of information, fair treatment of employees and the opportunity to respond adequately to questions and fears. Employees receive information and answers to questions regarding their professional future in the company, changes in work processes and the future structure of the company. This is to be implemented through weekly meetings between managers and teams and individual discussions with people directly affected. In addition, there will be a kind of "merger newsletter", which will always inform about the latest decisions. The same applies to a telephone hotline that employees can call if they have any questions. Great ideas, right? With this concept, communication and transparency in companies should be no big deal. Do you know how long this concept actually exists? Since the 1980s - in other words for around 30-40 years. 

Communication: the top 4 excuses

Isn't that incredible? For almost 40 years, the topic of communication and transparency has been researched with its positive and negative consequences. I am sure that everyone who sits at management level has heard about it during their studies or during further training. At least all managers have certainly experienced for themselves how an employee with a lack of communication and transparency feels in a company. Nevertheless, nothing has changed in the state of the companies. The management prefers to refer to empty promises and much talking, in the end nothing is implemented. That's just as much for shaking his head as the sustainability statistics Andreas likes to refer to. To be honest, I don't see the point in now giving you five steps for better communication and transparency within the company. Let's rather ask ourselves why communication in a company is always drowning. Why is there simply no transparency? Here are my Top 4 excuses from the management level. 

 1. I DIDN'T HAVE A BETTER TIME EITHER!

Wonderful, you have finally left the employee level and ascended into the world of managers. Finally you can control and rule like it pleases you. Plans can be forged, change processes can be planned, and communication is finally no longer necessary. Now you have all the information you need. Let the employees just do their job, they'll find out soon enough. We managers didn't know everything immediately in the past. Quite honestly: Are you still OK?

 2. I GIVE THE COMPETITORS IMPORTANT INFORMATION!

That's an argument based at least on a logical way of thinking. In fact, the merger of two companies or restructuring due to a new product, for example, can be quite exciting for the competitors. Let's think about the facts. Many processes fail due to the negative reactions of the employees - caused by insufficient communication. If you ensure transparency in your company, the employees will most likely support the decisions. They feel treated fairly and valued. Valued employees won't just divulge important information, will they?

 3. I DON'T WANT TO SPREAD FALSE INFORMATION!

I think you just have to bite the bullet in this area. Communication and transparency bring success. If one does not want to spread false information, it helps to plan a process correctly from the outset and not to start with step one, the rest will become apparent. Thus the spreading of wrong information is already reduced. Of course there can always be unforeseen changes. But the magic word here is communication and transparency. "The current state of the art is XY. We are very willing to provide you with information about possible changes as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please contact your manager." Wherever there is a will, there is a way.

 4. MY EMPLOYEES CANNOT DEAL WITH IT!

There are two reasons behind this sentence. On the one hand, you don't have much confidence in your employees. Most people can deal with much more than you think. On the other hand, you also want to protect your employees, not to bring them into fear. Some information always seeps through. This creates even more uncertainty and less trust in managers. Employees know that something is coming, but nobody gives them precise information. Not a nice feeling, I'd rather know what it's really about!

If you really want to make a lasting difference to your communication and transparency in your company, take a look at the zweikern Analytics page or contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

In order for people to open a door, they need to know who is standing in front of it.

by Anke Maggauer-Kirsche

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Selina Kern
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