The Challenge

A utility company was looking to improve its internal communications alignment at a nuclear generating station. While senior corporate and station management were aligned message-wise, it was clear that messages were not being adequately conveyed, received, and acted upon by the middle and first line supervisors and the line employees.


Working with the plant communications, training, and organizational staffs, Hawthorn developed a training program directed at the site’s first line supervisors and managers.


  • Design a program to accommodate the four-hour window requested by the plant management.
  • Include a review of communications fundamentals, an explanation of the role communications plays at the site – and the barriers to effective communication that must be overcome – as well as two practical exercises.
  • One exercise involves taking a general plant communication and crafting a message specific to the supervisor’s work group.
    The second exercise involves delivering that message and facilitating discussion before a group that included a class facilitator and other members of the class, with immediate verbal and written feedback being provided.
  • Senior site leaders participate in every session to show the station’s commitment and to mentor the participants.


  • A course facilitator at the site noted that they saw supervisors grow professionally as they practiced preparing and delivering a message and facilitating a discussion around the key issues.
  • Participants learned that ‘how’ a message is conveyed is as important as ‘what’ the content is, and they learned the value of facilitating a discussion to ensure understanding of the message, the “why” of the action.
  • Internal communications was indicated as a strength during an ensuing peer review.
  • Training incorporated into plant’s ongoing organizational development program to ensure continuity.