Did Telstra execs shoot telco's reputation in the foot?

img_gwinn.jpg Straight shootin’ from Telstra’s Greg Winn.

Given the gun slaying in Melbourne yesterday am, the airing of ABCs Four Corners alleged expose of undue pressure on staff at Telstra unfortunately featured audio clips by Telstra’s Greg Winn urging the metaphorical ‘shooting’ (sacking) of staff who won’t ‘get with the program’.
Compared to the media villification of Ch9’s Eddie Maguire for his suggested ‘boning’ of Jessica Rowe, Winn’s had a surprisingly easy media ride of it (particularly in the face of several staff suicides allegedly due to bullying work pressures and employee productivity monitoring).
Facing the Four Corners cameras another Telstra exec John Rolland delivered a defiantly glazed-eye, rather robotic media performance that was somewhat short on authenticity and empathy (even when he said “we’re all sad” it struck me as having a pretty hollow ring. I now you’re just doing your job, John, but the EI quotient wasn’t really there). Telstra staff have been gagged from speaking to the media
Now, Greg Winn’s bullish oratorical style may win him friends at slap-up internal lunches, but what’s that (and Rolland’s stonewall) doing for the corporation’s image with the public-at-large? A few Winning pearls include:

“We’re not running a democracy. We don’t manage by consensus. We’re criticised for it, but the fact of the matter is we run an absolute dictatorship.”
On laggardly employees: “If you can’t get the people to go there, and you try once and you try twice, which is sometimes hard to do but I do believe in a second chance, then you just shoot ’em and get ’em out of the way and put people in that you can teach the new business process to and drive on.”
Over at Telstra’s corpy blog, they’re saying the story is a tabloid-style beat-up designed as a pre-election ‘raise the Workplace Agreement issue’ on behalf of the unions. But that’s a serious charge; it suggests that a journo would use two Telstra staff suicides to support a pro- union agenda!! And they say that PR’s are dodgy…

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3 thoughts on “Did Telstra execs shoot telco's reputation in the foot?

  1. Via the ‘Rights At Work’ blog – http://www.rightsatwork.com.au/community/showthread.php?t=4236 – there’s a suggestion that John Rolland may have been wearing an earpiece, so that he could be fed ‘PR lines’…This is what one contributor wrote:
    “…the staring eyes were curious. Cast your mind back to the days of mad Ron Reagan. He had an ear piece to tell him what to say. It was almost as though Rolland had one fitted and was listening to a very skilled spinner in the background advising him how to answer the questions. If you think about it, almost every question had a gap between the question getting asked and the answer being given, really it looked and sounded as though he was being coached before answering.”

    I’m hugely sceptical about the earpiece – will Telstra refute this? – preferring the explanation of sound interview handling technique;
    Don’t react instantly
    Pause briefly to consider question
    Compose yourself and calmly respond.

    Agree, tho, that it looked like a bit of a ‘white knuckle’ experience for John R!

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  2. I saw the Four Corners story on Telstra workers. It was distrubing and proved, once again, that no amount of media training for senior executives can ever match the simple, sad statements of a grieving family.

    I found the Telstra side of the story pretty unconvincing. Next day I voted with my cheque book and cancelled my remaining Telstra account.

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  3. Rather than the media training angle Bob, isn’t it that you can’t fake ’emotional empathy’? You can learn to simulate it, but at a deep knowing level, people can sense genuine authenticity.

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