What message does THIS send to employees?

posted by Brendan Hodgson

A clear example of the perils of seeking publicity around what would be seen (at first glance) as a morale-raising  initiative and then having it backfire when the terms and conditions of that initiative aren’t made entirely clear – either to employees or to the media.

While National Semiconductor spokeswoman LuAnn Jenkins is quoted as saying “they were not a gift,” and that “we were very careful on the language we used talking about it,” the real question, in my view, is whether they were careful enough with respect to the language they used in communicating this initiative to their own employees.

It would seem not.

When you read the release, what would you think? Is it a business tool, reward, or both?

“Our employees were vital contributors to our most successful year in National’s 47-year history, and we wanted to equip them with the tools to help us create more value for our customers,” said Halla.  “The Apple iPod exemplifies the next stage of the consumer electronics revolution as content such as downloadable music, movies and digital photos –as well as a compelling user experience– takes center stage.  And, it’s analog that makes the difference.  This is where National, and our employees, deliver value to our customers.”

6 Comments
06

Jul
2006

Boyd Neil

Parsing the news release excerpt closely, I would have to say the company has a case. The purpose of the iPod is clearly stated:  "create more value for our customers." Giving it away to a family member as a gift is not creating customer value. But could it have been clearer? Probably.

06

Jul
2006

Brendan Hodgson

Intentional ambiguity for legal purposes is not my idea of meaningful communications, particularly to employees. For an organization to say that it has the legal right to reclaim these iPod’s based on vague wording (which we can only assume was also reflected in its internal comms or it would not have had these issues – but that’s still up in the air)may be valid. However, in the court of public opinion, legal justification may not fly from a perception stanpoint, and cause equal amounts of damage to reputation.

06

Jul
2006

Owen Lystrup

Funny you should bring this up. I wrote a post on it a few weeks ago when the news was announced.

I got in contact with Jeff Weir, the person who wrote the release and asked him  what the motivations were behind giving everyone iPods.

From his response, it didn’t seem as if they were anything but gifts.

However, I think it’s crappy regardless to give a gift and whisper (no matter how clearly or unclearly it is done) that you have the right to take the gift back whenever.

As an employee, I wouldn’t feel to rewarded.

06

Jul
2006

Brendan Hodgson

Owen, thanks for the "insider" input, and your post is interesting in its prescience. Without the full facts, I’m still not sure they really thought this one through.

10

Jul
2006

Canuckflack

Voice. It’s a concept we normally associate with identity, opinion, the differentiation of personalities. Charlton Heston is the voice of authority. Dr. Ruth represents compassion. Will Rogers was your wise old uncle. Morton Downey Jr. was your crazy

22

Sep
2010

JohnHE

Hi,

Just saying hello to this forum.

John

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