I overheard a comment recently: “It’s the message that is important, not the messenger.”
A company is struggling with their revenues. The sales forecast isn’t good. The organization must do a significant layoff to survive:
Can a representative from an outplacement firm deliver the message? Sure they can. Most people will call the company insensitive for doing such a thing.
Human resources is also capable of delivering the message. Keep in mind they aren’t the employee’s immediate supervisor. It can be perceived by an employee that they are just a number on the list of layoffs.
If the employee’s manager conveys the message, it comes from someone who knew the employee and their work. It’s an opportunity to genuinely recognize them and create a way for them to leave with respect.
The message is still the same. The person who delivers the message changes how that message is received. Don’t get me wrong, even when the manager delivers the layoff message, the employee might be upset. But can you imagine how much more upset they would be if the messenger was someone else?
Okay, so (fortunately) we don’t announce layoffs every week. But there are other instances where the messenger is as critical as the message. Same applies to recognition. While getting praise from people outside your department is delightful, it’s not a substitute for being recognized by your own manager. Again, the message might be the same (i.e. “You’re doing a great job!”) but who says it makes a big difference. Huge!
Part of being a leader is not only knowing what messages need to be delivered but also who the right person is to deliver them. Having the wrong person communicate the message isn’t fair to either the messenger or the receiver.
Image courtesy of blucolt