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Employee communication – a squid game?

A perspective from Mia Abed Azam, a Business Communication and K-drama (Korean series) addict. No spoilers ahead.

Reflecting on Squid Game, the titular game in the hit Korean Netflix series and a popular children’s game played in Korea, I kept drawing parallels to the journey and experience of winning at employee change communication. For a recap of the children’s game, watch the opening scene (2-3min) of episode one.

Now before you run off, I am not referring to the life and death version in the series, even though change communication can sometimes feel like it for us communicators (yes, we’ve all been there ????).

“WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY A GAME WITH ME?”*

You begin squid game by standing on one leg and before you enter the playing field, you scan the environment and learn as much as you can about your employees (to win over their hands, hearts and heads).

Wrong assumptions in this early stage and it is game over. i.e. you will lose your employees and the trust of your sponsors – a feeling communicators fear most.

However, standing on one leg should not be viewed as a disadvantage but an opportunity to humble yourself and recognise that the answers don’t all lie with you.

“HELLO, CAN I TALK TO YOU?”*

Feeling confident about the understanding you’ve gained, but still on one leg, you leap forward to get through the waist of the squid.

The stakeholders you’ll engage with will vary in their response. Some will challenge you to the point where you could fall over the line, but it is at this point that you stand your ground and keep the focus on the purpose (why we are doing this) and the employees (what’s in it for them). If you succeed at this you will pass through the waist of the squid and earn the freedom to play on two feet again.

Well done! Your sponsors are smiling and your employees are listening. Half the battle is won!

“A PLAYER IS NOT ALLOWED TO STOP PLAYING.”*

With the goal in sight, now is the moment to act and reach the head of the squid.

Given the employees’ acquired awareness and interest in the campaign, your every move and message now strengthens their knowledge. This helps them play a stronger game… but their strength and ability doesn’t mean a losing battle for you… it propels you to step into the squid head and achieve victory!

“AND, IN THAT MOMENT, I FELT AS IF I OWNED THE ENTIRE WORLD.”*

Congratulations, you’ve passed the game! Take the time to revel in and celebrate the victory with your sponsors, employees and your team. Share the success and capture the learnings. After all it was just a game and there are no losers.

“ONE MORE ROUND?”*

DM me to chat about anything regarding employee communication or K-dramas!

* All images and quotes sourced from the Netflix Squid Game series.

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