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Dear Workforce Managers Are Getting Luxury Cars, Employees are Tightening Their Belts!

Dear Concerned:

The simple answer to your communication question is to follow the Golden Rule–do what you would want done to you if you were one of the line employees being asked to tighten your belt. If the luxury-car decision has been made and is unlikely to be retracted, tell employees that the cars are coming and why. Offer no excuses and don’t sugarcoat the message; just tell it like it is. Your employees will see through any attempt to cover up or mislead and will resent being treated like anything less than mature, capable adults. It will be a tough conversation, but if you’re not completely honest, you’ll lose credibility and may never regain it.

A problem with the luxury car program is that it essentially rewards executives for something that hasn’t even occurred yet–realizing profits from the new business. And without the effort of everyone in the business, those profits won’t materialize. Make sure all employees understand the significance of the new business account and that all contributors get to celebrate it. Celebrate the new account as a business unit, plant, or division, and give recognition in front of the entire group to each contributing individual, including line employees. But also celebrate and share in the reward when the profits from the additional business finally come.

A useful guideline in situations like these is when you find yourself having difficulty telling the bold truth to employees, ask yourself why. If it’s because you can’t justify the actions in the face of current budget constraints, for ethical or other reasons, consider that it may be time to ask the company to rethink the luxury car deal or whatever the issue happens to be.

SOURCE: Kevin Herring, president, Ascent Management Consulting, Tucson, Arizona, Dec. 26, 2002

LEARN MORE: ReadNine Steps to Make Values Matter.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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