RSS icon

Top Stories

DEAR WORKFORCE

Dear Workforce How Do We Quell Rumors About an Executive’s Abrupt Departure

A top executive has left our firm abruptly and mysteriously and, so far, ownership has decided not to share the details. The rumors have been flying among the staff, and most are worse than the actual truth (to which I am privy). Some of them inaccurately and distastefully sully the character of other members of the company. Should the executives continue to say nothing? Even if they decide not to elaborate on the actual circumstances, should they address the rumors?
September 7, 2011
Recommend (0) Comments (0) ASK A QUESTION
Related Topics: Workforce Planning, Dear Workforce
Reprints

Dear Worried About Fallout:

In today's world, rumors can be deadlier than facts. Perhaps it has always been that way. But when you consider the pressure on top management to be ethically correct, company leaders cannot possibly afford to ignore the rumors swirling about your organization.

You had better believe that the subordinates, peers and employees who know the executive will fill the void with their own versions of what happened. Unfortunately, most times what happens are points of disagreement, another opportunity for the executive elsewhere or simply job elimination that causes a person to leave. The rumor mill, however, may indicate that the executive was having an affair, stole money from the company or misrepresented the firm in some dastardly way.

The answer has always been for top management to be honest, straightforward, direct and brief. These types of situations do not warrant a three-page memorandum. Usually, the statement will read that Mary or Joe has left the company to pursue other interests or to take advantage of another opportunity. Nothing else is usually stated.

Most employees realize that these are delicate moments. However, some information should be put forth as to what is going to happen because of the exodus of the individual. Far too often, companies let a void sit in the minds of the employees as to what will happen after the person leaves the company.

As quickly as possible, a new organization should be announced, realignments made and responsibilities identified and explained. Most employees really don't care why the executive left, but they do wonder how it may affect them as individuals.

Companies should always know that if a void is left open, then individuals will fill that void with misinformation. It is a rule that has never changed since organizations first began functioning.

SOURCE: William J. Morin, chairman and CEO,WJM Associates Inc., New York City, June 26, 2006.

LEARN MORE: Please read On the Contrary: Thinking the Worst for ways to quell rumors before they start.

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.

Ask a Question

Dear Workforce Newsletter

ASK A QUESTION

 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.

If you have any questions or concerns about Workforce.com, please email customerservice@workforce.com or call 312-676-9900.

The Workforce fax number is 312-676-9901.

Sign up for Dear Workforce e-newsletters!

Comments