Effective employee relations. Lessons from TNOW

Effective employee relations? Lessons from the News of the World

Much has been written already about News International and there is, no doubt, much more to come. It’s an understatement to say that the News of the World staff were shocked at the sudden closure of the paper. The fact that the Rebecca Brooks’ announcement about the closure to her colleagues was secretly recorded shows the level of fury and upset before the announcement.

And, in case you didn’t hear it, here’s a link to Rebecca Brooks’ address to her staff and the angry reaction of at least one employee: 

So, let’s look at this as an example of employee engagement. Staff were told suddenly, without any apparent consultation and with no idea whether they would be offered alternative employment. Putting aside the reasons behind the paper’s closure, this communication exercise didn’t appear to be effective. There are always good ways and bad ways of delivering news, of keeping staff informed, of taking on board their thoughts and views. 

Whether you're starting the conversation about layoffs, communicating a project going south, or dealing with poor employee performance, being the bearer of difficult news is one of the toughest tasks a manager faces.   That's not because the truth, on its face, is difficult to convey. It's the anxiety of the possibility of handling it poorly—and knowing that doing so can worsen the impact on your client, your colleague and your whole company. Finding the best way to cushion the blow on everything from project delays to personal reprimands is something that troubles even the leaders of country's top companies. No one likes having the painful conversation—but meting out the bad with the good is a part of the job as a manager.

At least do the following…

Don’t delay or avoid the negative situation.
Set and manage expectations beforehand if possible
Organise an appropriate meeting and venue
Sit around the same side of any table
Start by listening – build some rapport 
Get to the point quickly – look them in the eye – speak in a relaxed and natural tone
Explain / explore the background and any details after the main point has sunk in 
Acknowledge the other person’s emotion without getting drawn in yourself
Remember they may be upset with the message; the message isn’t you.
Reframe the situation where appropriate – feed the solution not the problem

There are a million lessons to be learned from the News of the World debacle, and we think adopting better employee/manager relations is just one of them,.

Hopefully you are already a more effective manager than this, and if you want to get even better please get in touch.


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