About change. And clueless employees.

When big things happen in a business, it’s important not to forget about the little things. Like how people talk about change internally. And how they write about it, in particular.

Take Pfizer and AstraZeneca for example. Earlier this year, ‘big pharma’ player Pfizer attempted to take over AstraZeneca. The deal didn’t work out. It might still happen, though, once Pfizer gets to the end of a cooling-off period. But no one at AstraZeneca’s really sure what that means for them. A friend of mine who works there confessed, ‘no-one’s got a clue what’s going on’.

If you’re in a department like HR or internal comms, people look to you for information. And if there’s none available, those people will worry instead. Or they’ll listen to water-cooler gossip about how their function’s moving to the other end of the country. And that’s hardly going to boost employee morale, is it?

I think if there’s even the faintest scent of change on the horizon, like there is at Pfizer and AstraZeneca, then someone needs to speak up about it internally. And not in a cloud of corporate vagueness. But honestly. To show that the bods in the boardroom really do care about how employees are feeling. They certainly don’t want to make the same mistakes as Microsoft in their lengthy memo to employees that takes 11 paragraphs to get to the point: 12,500 people are about to lose their job.

Because if Pfizer claims ‘respect for people’ and AstraZeneca ‘to do the right thing’ that’s true, especially at times of change, isn’t it? And if both companies could get a sense of those values across in their writing, then maybe people wouldn’t feel so clueless anymore.

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