In more than 25 years in this field, so much has changed. Unfortunately, some things have not.
It amazes me that when change is being announced – whatever the scale – some companies still do not prioritise communication with the people affected. We used to talk about the risk of employees reading the news while eating their cornflakes, now we highlight the risk of leaks through social media. The context has changed, but the principle remains the same: reach the people affected first.
This simple, enduring principle does not appear to have been followed yesterday, when the musical Cinderella was cancelled. Some cast members found out through social media. People who were due to take up new roles in a few weeks, when there was due to be a cast change, started to hear they were being let down from others, not from their prospective employer. Much uproar and anger have followed, garnering national headlines that focus on the way the news was announced rather than the closure of the show.
What any company in this position should do is have a rapid and robust contact programme that prioritises those affected and plans practical ways of reaching them in a very short timeframe. Perhaps The Really Useful group will reflect that announcing the closure on a Bank Holiday Sunday, and sending emails to agents when they are not going to be in the office, might not have been the best course of action.
Whatever the reasons for the closure – and perhaps there was a pressing commercial reason why it had to be announced yesterday - better planning and execution were required. Instead of understanding the rationale for the closure, but reflecting on the company’s responsible approach to those affected, we are now talking and hearing about the callous and uncaring way in which the news was communicated.
The announcement has become the story – and that is never a good look for any company.