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Business Case Study: Organizational Communication at FedEx

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  • 0:04 Integrated Communication
  • 1:04 FedEx & the 2001-2002…
  • 1:45 Layoffs
  • 3:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dr. Douglas Hawks

Douglas has two master's degrees (MPA & MBA) and is currently working on his PhD in Higher Education Administration.

In any company, communication is key. In times of strategic change that will affect both employees and customers, very careful, considered communication can be the difference between success and failure with all stakeholder groups. In this lesson, we'll discuss why.

Integrated Communication Strategy

Since its inception, FedEx has placed great importance on effective communication, both internally and externally. T. Michael Glenn, Executive Vice President of Market Development and Corporate Communications described the FedEx approach perfectly. He said, 'Communication is the center of everything at FedEx. You can't execute it if you can't communicate it.' FedEx calls this their integrated communication function. At its heart, integrated communication involves constant monitoring of situations and quickly disseminating this information to employees, customers and other stakeholders, as necessary.

FedEx has a strategic platform statement that says 'One Vision, One Voice.' This clearly articulates that they expect all 200,000+ employees to have one voice, which means they all must understand the vision. This is why, whether it's through 10-minute, televised, company-wide updates each day or local 'all-hands' meetings, FedEx invests heavily in making sure communication is integrated into their work and operations.

FedEx and the 2001 - 2002 Recession

In the wake of the 2001 recession, FedEx, like many companies, realized they were going to have to cut one of their largest costs: people. These layoffs weren't just a few delivery drivers or corporate headquarters employees; these layoffs were going to have to include nearly 13,000 FedEx employees.

Layoffs are difficult for any company to do, let alone one that had recently been named to Forbes top ten 'World's Most Admired Companies.' The leaders at FedEx knew that although initiating such massive layoffs could be devastating, the negative impact could be significantly lessened through a successful communication campaign. This is where their integrated communication function shined.

Layoffs

FedEx's answer to their problem has made it a case study in exceptional organizational communication, the flow of information, both internal and external, within an organization. FedEx had learned and strategically decided that when difficult changes had to be made, they wouldn't be made in isolation or secrecy. FedEx, trying to execute a difficult situation the best they could, knew that the only way to execute it was to communicate it.

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