Meat+Poultry - September 2020 - 37

future might impact stakeholders is critical
to maintaining morale and ensuring the
company's stability and image, the likely future
prospects for employment and maintaining the
status quo.
Throughout the pandemic, business leaders
have grappled with finding the sweet spot
when it comes to communicating change
within their companies. The process has been
made easier for some, thanks to a healthy and
transparent culture that starts at the top. For
many family-owned businesses in the meat
and poultry industry, company owners literally
work shoulder-to-shoulder with employees
and maintaining positive relationships is
made easier as the team often works in "the
trenches" together to achieve a common goal
each day.
"People need to hear from leaders about
what's happening, what's being done, what
they know and what they don't know," said
Barbara Dartt, DVM, a principal consultant
with the Family Business Consulting Group
(FBCG), based in Chicago.
Change may be the only constant in life, but
for many family businesses, it triggers bristling
and uneasiness among employees. Fair
process and true governance are phrases Dartt
talks a lot about when discussing effective
change implementation in family businesses.
Fair process occurs when business leaders
take the time to assess a current situation,
consider potential outcomes and develop
response options that also reflect input from
the family owners and possibly third-party
sources. Meanwhile family leaders rely on
true governance, or a well-defined leader
or leadership group, who ultimately are the
decisionmakers for the company.
Consistent messaging is important during
times of change, in terms of the messenger
communicating the message, as is the
frequency of the messaging to customers
and employees, Dartt said. It's important to
recognize that some top-level leaders are not
cut out for delivering company news when
uncertainty is a theme, which has been the
case with COVID-19.
"There are some leaders in family
businesses and non-family businesses that
simply are never going to be comfortable
standing in front of a group and admitting,
'I don't know,'" Dartt said. "They just can't

be that vulnerable." Dartt points out that
relating the message of leadership is not
a quality everyone at the upper level of
leadership possesses.
"Sometimes the people who have the most
authority, aren't the best communicators," but
when it comes to conveying the details of a
company changing its strategy, employees tend
to place more value on the credibility of the
person delivering the message and their status
as an owner over their ability to be masters
of communication.
"If you had to pick one or the other
though, you probably go with the person in
the position of authority and then work really
hard to support them. That way, people feel
like the message is coming from somebody
with the power to make things happen or make
change occur."

FACTS FIRST
When it comes to keeping stakeholders
informed during times of change, especially in
a family business, it is helpful to identify what
is the most important information to keep
them up to date while recognizing that some
workers and customers just want the bare
minimum and not a deep dive on the details of
the situation.
"Some of them don't need that much, they
don't want that much and don't want to read
three emails a week," Dartt said. "So, you need
to identify, what is it they really want to know.
Within any company's employee base, you're
going to have different needs for information."
She said those needs might be bare bones
for some employees and more detailed for
others. And depending on the audience, the
channels used to communicate details about
changes can make a significant difference.
"I've got some clients who won't read more
than three bullet points in an email," she said.
"But for some people, video is really important;
can you do short videos that appeal to a
segment?" she said.
She added that depending on the
demographics of the employees or customers
receiving the message, a longer email with
more detail might be more effective for
some. She warns though that depending on
the company and the person delivering the
message, sometimes written updates by email
or other means leads people to misread the

"People
need to hear
from leaders
about what's
happening,
what's being
done, what
they know
and what they
don't know."
- BARBARA DARTT

www.meatpoultry.com | 09.20 | MEAT+ POULTRY

37


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Meat+Poultry - September 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - September 2020

Meat+Poultry - September 2020 - 1
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Meat+Poultry - September 2020 - VDG1
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