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Manager‐employee communication during a crisis: the missing link

Manager‐employee communication during a crisis: the missing link Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effectiveness of internal communication during a crisis by comparing how Italian companies communicated to employees during the 2008‐2009 global financial crisis and how employees interpreted these efforts. Design/methodology/approach – The study used interviews with internal communication managers and employees. It also drew data from two focus groups and a survey involving internal communicators. Findings – The results indicate a misalignment between what companies meant to communicate and what employees perceived. Companies planned excellent communication, made extensive use of official instruments and depicted the crisis as an opportunity, while employees complained about the lack of listening and about the clarity of messages, disliked hierarchical communication and accused their companies of opportunism. Research limitations/implications – Further research is needed to explore the antecedents of the effective manager‐employee sensemaking process during a crisis. Practical implications – To reduce misalignment, companies should strengthen trust relationships before a crisis occurs and should focus on open and continuous listening during a crisis. Originality/value – The two perspectives of managers and employees used simultaneously offer a more comprehensive understanding of the complexity of internal communication during crises. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Corporate Communications An International Journal Emerald Publishing

Manager‐employee communication during a crisis: the missing link

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References (40)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2011 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1356-3289
DOI
10.1108/13563281111156899
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effectiveness of internal communication during a crisis by comparing how Italian companies communicated to employees during the 2008‐2009 global financial crisis and how employees interpreted these efforts. Design/methodology/approach – The study used interviews with internal communication managers and employees. It also drew data from two focus groups and a survey involving internal communicators. Findings – The results indicate a misalignment between what companies meant to communicate and what employees perceived. Companies planned excellent communication, made extensive use of official instruments and depicted the crisis as an opportunity, while employees complained about the lack of listening and about the clarity of messages, disliked hierarchical communication and accused their companies of opportunism. Research limitations/implications – Further research is needed to explore the antecedents of the effective manager‐employee sensemaking process during a crisis. Practical implications – To reduce misalignment, companies should strengthen trust relationships before a crisis occurs and should focus on open and continuous listening during a crisis. Originality/value – The two perspectives of managers and employees used simultaneously offer a more comprehensive understanding of the complexity of internal communication during crises.

Journal

Corporate Communications An International JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 9, 2011

Keywords: Internal communication; Crisis communication; Sensemaking in organizations; Employee behaviour; Managers; Italy

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