In 2002 the NSW Government was in the process of selling the state’s largest rail carrier, FreightCorp. This created uncertainty for thousands of employees and the company faced big challenges in communicating effectively with its decentralised, shift-based, 24-hour workforce.
In this period of significant change, management felt frontline employees were not sufficiently informed of organisational goals and initiatives. Operational requirements needed to continue, but employees needed to hear about and ask questions on the issues. Driver coordinators and driver trainers came in regular contact with train drivers and were well positioned to communicate to frontline employees if provided with the appropriate skills and confidence.
Impact conducted 17 one-day communication skills workshops for 160 FreightCorp employees. Training was made relevant by the inclusion of key findings from qualitative research with employees. Foundation skills were covered including presentation skills; negotiation; counselling; and team dynamics. Follow up check-ins with workshop participants were completed to keep the training front of mind and to offer additional support to individuals if required.
The training paid off. For the first time in NSW, employees voted in favour of a privatisation. The sale totalled AU$1.172 billion for the NSW Government.