Monday, March 07, 2011

Shreveport | Mandatory 'managing change' training

Employees at The Times of Shreveport, La., got the following memo this afternoon. One reader there wonders if similar notes have gone out elsewhere in Gannettland. I believe this is related to the recent reorganization of human resources across the company.

Hello team,

Julie Lusk, VP/HR Business Partner Teams, will be in town next week.  She is scheduled to conduct this mandatory training for all directors, managers as well as all employees. Below are the dates/times for next week’s training.

There are two versions of the Managing Change training -- one is an employee 1-hour workshop and the other is a 2-hour manager session. Both are focused on the following questions . . .
  • Why do we need to change? Business imperative.
  • What happens during change? How people respond.
  • How do you respond to change? Understanding your reactions.
  • How can we embrace change? Develop action plan. 
The manager session will also include understanding people’s reactions to change and identifying what they need to do as managers to navigate change and support employees.

From the information below, please sign up everyone in your department by sending me an email as to the date and time. The training for the managers should be limited to 15 people per session and the one for employees should be no more than 25 employees. First come first serve on the time preference.

Tuesday 3/15
  • 8:30 Managing Change training for managers
  • 11:00 Managing Change training for employees
  • 3:00 Managing Change training for managers
Wednesday 3/16
  • 8:30 Managing Change training for employees
  • 10:00 Managing Change training for managers
  • 2:00 Managing Change training for employees
Have you seen a memo like this recently? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the rail, upper right.


  1. Hooray. It is about time we had a course telling us how to change. Action plans should get things moving.

  2. And just when Gannett screws up again with this new branding campaign, now they manage to top themselves!

    What a waste of resources! Making employees and managers sit through some seminar of corporate gobbledygook instead of, you know, doing their jobs.

    It reminds me of the Real Life/Real News BS. They made us all sit in these two-hour meetings watching videos of writers, then sitting in groups talking about new ways to writes stories.

    You'd have 50 people at this meeting. Figure two hours per employee, and that was 100 hours of time wasted. And this went on each month for six months. Imagine the production that could have taken place.

    Frankly, I'd wish all the employees, to a person, would just boycott the damn meetings, to send a message to corporate to stop wasting everyone's time with their stupidity and start stepping up to the plate about how they treat their workers.

  3. Be WARY. The Michigan Group went through this training in 2007. During all of the meetings, a Human Resource Manager took notes with names of people and how they responded to anything and everything -- even if they DIDN'T respond when called on. I subsequently believe that this list was used to assist them in selecting who to keep and who to ditch during layoffs. The training in 2007 was a real downer, I just can't imagine sitting there now and listening to the BS about being on Level 5 Rapids and watching that frightening video about how the Web is going to take EVERYTHING over and life will just be miserable.

    I hope they are planning on serving very strong cocktails during this round of sessions!

  4. 12:04 is right. This is nothing but a clever way of finding out who isn't enthusiastic about the transformation plan. The unresponsive or the unenthusiastic will find themselves on a layoff schedule within months.

  5. I ditto 12:04 and agree with 12:03 -- Stay FAR AWAY from these meetings if you can. They are not for the employees' benefits; it's another HR function to figure out who should be kept and who should be cut loose. Staying silent won't keep you from being "branded" (what a ironically humors pun!). Choose your words, body language, etc. very carefully if you dare even attend. I'm wondering if they are finally rolling this out companywide to "assess" which employees are Gannett material and which aren't?

  6. OMFG, one of the older sales people in the one I attended recommended finding "a way to keep all of the older people alive" during the action plan part. It was TOO funny! Despite the brillance and truth of his recommendation, it didn't save his job!?!

  7. It sounds like Craig and Co. are making a list and checking it twice!

  8. I will say one thing
    Julie Lusk is a very nice person-no matter what the business part of it is- she handles herself well- & she has helped me in many ways whenever I was going thru my change in my job.
    GOOD LUCK Julie

  9. This sounds a little far-fetched, but if it's true I will have to attend and act very uninterested in the future action plan. Even Gannett's minimal severance could help me in the transition that I'd like to make to another career.

    Of course, it would be far simpler for the company to offer voluntary buyouts or allow people to volunteer for a layoff. Some people would bite. Maybe not enough, but there would be some and it would help save the jobs of people who still want to man the sinking ship.

  10. Even the paranoid have enemies.

  11. Dear Management:

    I have been a productive and successful Gannett employee for a long time. I can now barely do my job because my managers can't communicate basic instructions or "battle plan" with each other. They speak with each other daily, and yet can't answer basic questions about what it is we're supposed to be doing. The last trainer who held sessions was very good, but was laughed out of the room because everything he told us not to do was being done consistently by the managers above us. He said he wasn't hired to train them, but us. (And he felt sorry for us.) We don't need your "change" trainer. Take the session yourself. HOW DO YOU MANAGE CHANGE? ARE YOU COMMUNICATING PROPERLY? WHERE IS THE CHANGE GOING? WHAT ARE THE GOALS? WHAT ARE THE PRIORITIES? Or, perhaps the reality is, the change is going nowhere. We are just running down the business until we close. If that's true, fine. Tell us that. Tell us we all have six months to a year, take the boogie man out of the closet, and we can stop with the double talk and go back to work.

  12. Went through "change" training -- a big HR effort at the time in my area -- just a bit before the big layoffs of 2008-2009. I'd advise folks currently undergoing the training (which tells those feeling the "stress" of "change" to eat right, exercise, etc.) to instead get their financial houses in order.

  13. This is outstanding. Operating units need all the help they can get and training is always beneficial.

  14. The man in room 1013/08/2011 8:59 AM

    A managing change seminar was held at the APP several years ago after one round of buyouts and the second wave of lay-offs.
    It was a giant spin session, which even went as far as to suggest that the people who were laid-off had some deficiency and deserved it. A nice way to handle the stress and grief of people who'd just lost co-workers and friends. There was obvious misinformation presented.
    The promised "relaxation techniques" portion barely took up 10 minutes at the end of the session and that info could have been found on any website. The overall unspoken opinion among attendees was "we sat through 2 hours of nonsense for this?"
    Bottom line: schedule an out-of-the office interview for that time. You'll be glad you did and OMG, real work will be done!

  15. I have fond memories of the time-management training I had a few years ago ... that ran over.

  16. More corporate bull shit. It's amazing, with all that's going on that Gannett finds time for stuff like this.

    How about telling people exacting what "change" is coming their way?

    Are reporters going to become pr flacks for advertisers? Is the staff that can't be cut anymore being cut again? What exactly is this change?

  17. The "training" session should be called:

    "Just Shut Up and Do As You Are Told"
    (A Gannett Training Experience in One Easy Step... Or Maybe Two)

  18. All the change management training in the world won't help a company with a culture notoriously known for not listening to it's employees.

    Bottom line: Some well-known, top managers need to abandon their bullying, "just do it" management style. I sat thru more than a few meetings where the rank and file, even OC members, were raising valued concerns and issues only to be shot down by a publisher who's standard retort was basically this... she didn't want to hear it.

    Acts like this held this company back and cost it dearly.

  19. You've got that right, 10:06 a.m.....And that, folks, is what's been referred to as the "rude and crude" Gannett style of management!

  20. Shut up, smile, say nothing and keep looking for a job.

    A few years back attended a mid-managers seminar with a person who was curious and smart - also polite and very professional. News division trolls were at the back of the room were watching, and this guy was knocked off his career path. Perception was that he was not gulping the Kool-Aid. Person soon left the company and is doing well in another career.

    Lesson: You are either a sycophant or traitor. If you possess smarts and independent thought, you need to leave Gannett.

  21. This same training was done back in 2008 in many Gannett locations. Emotional Intelligence was the other training class done that year. EI was done right at the time of the Aug layoffs and was very beneficial for the employees to vent and work through what was going on. My employees (i'm no longer with Gannett) have been asking for that sort of training for a while, and I think it's something common at most papers. I'm a Julie Lusk fan as well - she is a true professional. Instead of complaining about having to go to "mandatory training" go with an open mind. It might help you work through your own transition issues.

  22. Hello 2:15 p.m.....What are the changes? What is going to happen? I, for one, would like to know what I have to work through before I'm being trained to work through it.

  23. It will be fun to watch our AD in Shreveport play the corp bandwagon game.

  24. It is possible to put too much sugar in the kool-aid

  25. Winning with training! I hope they serve Tiger Blood during the breaks.

  26. 10:34: Hehe! LOL! Thanks for the chuckle!

  27. Let me guess. They will help us cope with the lower wages and increased pressure from furloughs while celebrating the profits of our site. Help us understand changes that mean cost savings with modest losses in quality, putting our friends out. Are these changes that include little investment in the people who get papers to doorsteps and off the presses? Or are we finally going to get back to talking about how our purpose of public service combines with a business plan partnering with local businesses? Maybe the change is that we make money as the first mission instead of horse pulling the cart.

  28. Is this nonsense going on at the stations too?


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