Café conversations

Posted by Jackie Russell

When you have something to discuss that will potentially damage the reputation of your company – do not have that conversation in a café.

Not negotiable.

Recently, a discussion involving a significant brand was broadcast loud and clear to café customers, including me.

liam mckay 674319 unsplash

Photo by Liam McKay on Unsplash

While we sipped our caffeine charges the words – employee exploitation, immigration and inappropriate use of old stock were tossed about for all to hear.

Really? Did they think no one else was in the house?

Yes, we should all mind our own business but this practice by some senior execs was out of line in such a public place.

Importantly, the person they interviewed about their intolerable work conditions wanted to remain anonymous and they compromised that person. Epic fail.

What about your employees?

You can’t stop your staff from discussing their place of employment when they are out and about, which is why it is essential to review your workplace practices and stay on top of the game.

Before they turn to your customers, their friends, social media, the press – you want them to come to you with their grievances.

This means you need to:

  • Have an open door to your team,
  • Identify how you really feel about conflict
  • Understand the company’s conflict culture
  • Regularly check how the work day is going for your staff

Prevention is better than cure

Communication and marketing energy is most commonly directed to the world outside of the workplace.

However, it is essential communication to your staff builds a positive culture to reduce the risk of them destroying your company reputation.

We all need to feel valued, have a bit of fun and be proud of the company that deposits the dollars in our bank account.

The size of your company will dictate how to best build a rapport with your staff.

If there’s only a few of you a weekly chat that involves planning, future prospects and any concerns may suffice.

Keep that conversation in a neutral office space though – not a cosy café.

Larger companies can use apps, email and hardcopy newsletters to stay connected to staff.

The objective should be to build a positive culture and keep it human.

No one will be excited about receiving a sterile corporate doorstop, nor will they appreciate a management rant.

Depending on the company – you could venture into social media and set up a Facebook group to stay connected.

Approach this one with caution because some staff may not be interested in joining the group and others may use it to go on a public rampage about their issue.

Above everything – avoid cafés, restaurants and pubs to sort out tricky stuff. You never know who is listening.