Matthew Jakubowski: Value Proposition

John Vink, Alley near the Mid-Level escalators. Hong Kong, 17/04/2015. Source:

John Vink, Alley near the Mid-Level escalators. Hong Kong, 17/04/2015. Source:

There was concern because a concern had been raised. A meeting took place after hours; the minutes counted legal and executive management as present. A draft memo circulated and was finalized, with managerial talking points to be used in all group status meetings and one-on-ones between managers and employees. The plan was implemented.

“So, I think we agree that to keep this on track we all need to do our part and ensure that this doesn’t happen again. Cool? Alright, that’s it. Thanks, everybody. I know you’re all busy. Anymore questions? Okay, let me capture that real quick. Got it. Thanks for that. I’ll take that back and let you know. No worries. Alright then, remember, for our next status we all have to report some solid metrics. We need numbers to show how and why some aspects of our business are getting this unwanted attention, okay? Going forward, please contact Alix with any scheduling or training concerns. She knows all the stakeholders and can get any new resources up to speed.”

“So, listen, I hear what you’re saying, okay? I know you’re getting a lot of pushback on your objections to what’s been going on. I’m sorry you weren’t looped in on all the planning. I was on vaca and I’m staring down, let’s see, six hundred thirty-eight emails now. Wow. But let’s use this one-on-one time right now to touch base about this, alright, man? I think what I want to say first is that we have to work together. We’re a team, you know? We’ve all got the same priorities. I mean, at least, we should! Seriously though, if things make sense for us, but it doesn’t make sense for you, let me know because if we’re not aligned then no one’s going to be happy, right? Like I said at last week’s status meeting—man, I hate that term “status meeting,” don’t you? But that’s what it is, right? Anyway, we need to stop stabbing each other in the back and just take a minute to remind ourselves that it’s just rape, it doesn’t matter, we all have lives when we leave this building, we all have families and shit that we care about. But in the meantime we have to keep trying to work together. We have to if we’re going to make people see the greater value of what we really do, you know? We spend more time here with each other than we do with our kids and our wives or our friends. We all worry about stuff sometimes. We have our doubts. So we have to respect that and we have to treat each other right to just get the job done. So we can all go home at the end of the day and feel like we did something worthwhile, like what we do here matters.”


Findings and Outcomes:

Many business areas suggested keyword changes and advocated developing a plan to focus on each employee’s potential reaction to direct and indirect terminology during “real world” discussions in statuses and one-on-ones. Learnings were recorded and policy was adjusted. The goals were: 1) to achieve the right tone during discussions with communications staff about the emotional nature of some of their work and, 2) to establish a measurable channel for consistent messaging to cascade more effectively from internal communication areas to the proper external audiences.

Post-implementation, the biggest takeaway is a positive: significant reduction in the use of employee mental-health benefits—seventeen percent. Going forward, the reduced benefit utilization means a healthier workforce and less downtime: a cost savings.


Matthew Jakubowski is a West Philadelphia-based writer. His work appears in gorse, 3:AM Magazine, The Paris Review Daily, Kenyon Review OnlineThe Millions, among others. He blogs on truce.