I couldn’t help notice the sarcasm when I read today’s Economic Times article which asked if Satyam is doing more damage to India than Lakshar-e-Toiba, the dreaded terrorist organization claimed to be behind many of the attacks in the country. Though all is not lost for outsourcing to India.
I first heard of the Satyam fraud case when I received a forwarded email sharing a copy of the letter written by the ex-CEO to the Board. I thought it was a hoax till my eyes picked up the seal on the letter. This wasn’t the first case of internal communication leaking out and getting carried by the press; interesting challenge I would think for internal communicators who can’t really control news staying in. We had instances of Tata’s letter to his Directors talking of the slowdown and cost management measures and more recent Azim Premji’s letter to Wiproites explaining the World Bank’s decision to debar them for a few years.
While Satyam’s new board is doing its bit to salvage what it can (interestingly the website is updated with recent announcements), these are trying times for internal communicators and the leadership to convince employees to hang on and see the crisis through.
Research points to two aspects which can impact internal communication at this stage – trust and organizational identification. One research mentions that employee communications affects Organizational Identification (OI) more than perceived external prestige (PEP). Communication climate, one aspect of internal communication plays a vital role. Therefore how communication is done is more critical than what is communicated. Trust in senior leadership is also eroding globally as a trend and it may be much lower at Satyam considering how many employees are actively seeking employment outside. Despite a vote of confidence from Narayan Murthy of Infosys on the quality of professionals at Satyam, it is an uphill task for those at the organization to keep morale and confidence up.
I would point internal communicators to a Blessing White survey on the State of Employee Engagement which talks of leveraging managers and aligning employees to the big picture. Here are some important trends: ‘Three in four (75%) employees trust their immediate managers. Only about half (53%) of employees trust their organization’s senior leaders’.
This is also probably a good time to share good news on client satisfaction rates which continue to be high – a reflection of employees’ commitment even under stress. The internal communicator needs to provide guidance and tools for managers to speak with their teams on a regular basis – briefing them on the changes and next steps for the organization.
I think Satyam is too big a name to fail – not just for Indian IT but for India as a nation.
The 6 big names in IT were known as SWITCH (Satyam, Wipro, Infosys, TCS, Cognizant and HCL) and holds 2.4% of global IT outsourcing ($667 billion). [Source: That was IT in 2008, Sadagopan S., Education Times, Times of India, January 5, 2009 – page 4]. With the World Bank barring both Satyam and Wipro for the wrong reasons, you can only hope that the acronym does not get any smaller!