Your CEO comes into your office. He is visibly angry and upset. He tells you that soon after conducting a town hall meeting yesterday on the importance of transparency within the organization and shared his renewed commitment to transparency for all employees, he made a costly mistake and needs to address it immediately. He mistakenly emailed sensitive material and plans for a reorganization and reduction in force to a large-group email instead of the intended audience, the smaller leadership group. The email specifically states, “Do not share this material.” However, one of the unintended recipients has now shared the content on their social media site, and it has been seen by many of the employees and picked up by a local media outlet. He did not realize his error until he received a voice mail from the local television station asking for comment.
The CEO is extremely upset and shaken by the incident. He states that the plan that was mailed out was a contingency plan in case of insurmountable pandemic related losses. He asks you to draft a response for him to review—one that explains the intention behind the plan, provides an apology, and seeks to open a dialogue with any concerned staff. He knows that the staff are very upset, concerned, and want answers. As you begin your work, you also realize that you need to consider the diverse cultures and generations represented in the organization, and to come up with a communication that will explain the situation in a way that everyone can accept.
Your draft should be between no shorter than 2 paragraphs and no longer than 1 page. You want your message to be long enough to convincingly share the messages your CEO has charged you with. Do not go too long, as that can confuse your message and also come across as overly defensive or placating.
As you craft your response for this scenario, consider the guiding questions below. You do not need to specifically integrate all of these into your draft, but you should think about them. You will find them especially helpful as you review your classmates’ drafts.
- Should we ever be completely transparent?
- How do you find where the line is?
- How do you convey what that line is?
- How do you get buy-in that this is the right balance of transparency?
- How does the line for transparency relate to an inclusive organizational culture discussed in the previous module?
- How are the different disciplines handling transparency based upon how diverse and how inclusive they are?