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Wanted: Communications manager who can maintain a two-way conversation with 800 co-workers

Dany Gagnon
May 02, 2017

We continue to recruit for a Manager – Internal Communications for an 18-month contract at the Temiscaming site. 

I am writing this brief blogpost to give color to the job description and to go beyond the guiding principles for that role as part of the seven-member contract HR team.

I can’t wait to have a communications professional on the site, because it is a critical function in a transformation project. Good communications inform, motivate and engage everyone at three levels:

  • Understanding the vision for the transformation – the big picture for the site.
  • Knowing what the vision means for their mill or department – their neighborhood.
  • Appreciating their individual contribution to the whole – their back yard. 

The heart of the job is establishing a two-way conversation with the community of 800 people who work at the site – floor employees, frontline supervisors, office staff, and management.

We need someone who will go beyond delivering top-down messages. Someone who can establish connections with people at various levels across the site and listen to what they are saying – negative, neutral and positive.

Those insights can help us to mobilize our people to embrace change, and to avoid being paralyzed due to uncertainty. Or to get the most from a new technology, such as our recently launched attendance and payroll system. All this is the essence of transformation – changing our ways of thinking and working to make the site more efficient and competitive.

In brief, we are looking for someone who understands communications and management.

Expectations include coaching, teaching, reaching out and soul-keeping

The Manager – Internal Communications will report to me and must be close to the site management team as well. All of us in management need to be better communicators, and to lead through communications. We need a professional who can coach us and show us the way!

We are focused on making frontline supervisors the center of gravity at the site, and part of that role is knowing how to share information with their people – mill floor employees. Supporting these supervisors, and helping them learn how to communicate the essentials, is a big part of the communications job. It will also help our supervisors to grow as individuals.

We need to be able to reach out and communicate instantly and effectively with employees across the site. This has three components:

  • Developing a synchronized communications plan, so we cascade information properly across the site as a reflex. 
  • Understanding and utilizing communications technology, such as social media, where appropriate. 
  • Providing relevant messages and content in every communication – whether it is spoken, in print, or electronic.

The Manager – Internal Communications also has to be something of a soul-keeper who has a good read for the emotional state of the site, and will know when to intervene through one form of communication or another.

I am an engineer, so I have a rational bias, but as a manager I recognize that we humans are generally motivated by our emotional side. When I say soul-keeper I mean being sensitive to the emotions – elation because of a success, fear because of the unknown, or distress because of a setback – of individuals and of groups.

All this will help to make managers and supervisors more aware of what is happening on the mill floor at the site – and equip us to take action. It could be a group meeting… one-on-one sessions… a blogpost… or a traditional memo. But communication will be the heart of the matter.

About Dany Gagnon

Dany GagnonDany, who joined Tembec in September 2015 with a mandate to lead the transformation, is building on his success leading change management programs in the automotive, brewing and agri-food industries. He is a mechanical engineer with a specialization in aeronautics and has a certification in process management. His global perspective reflects his experience working in the US, Asia and Europe, as well as Canada.

Temiscaming site, in brief

  • One of the largest forest products manufacturing sites in North America.
  • 800 site employees – 80% unionized under one collective agreement / 20% staff.
  • Three main mills that manufacture different forest products: specialty cellulose, high-yield pulp and coated bleached board (containerboard); and a chemical products facility.

Temiscaming transformation

The objective is to make Temiscaming a highly-competitive world-class operation for the long term. This will enable us to meet customer expectations for quality and reliability, as well as community expectations for sustainability, while ensuring profitability for Tembec.