I confess it's been hard to cut through the myriad messages of alarm and preoccupation coming from every which way in the last couple of weeks, and think rationally. As a human who is highly invested in relationships, how all of the recent events are connected has impacted me to varying degrees.
This week we will talk about the role of mentors and leaders in our professional lives,with the benefits spilling over the personal arena.
One of the reasons why companies are having such a hard time with social media is an innate inability to look less than perfect to the public. There is an image the organization has spent considerable time building and maintaining as part of its branding efforts in ads, PR, web copy, brochures, etc. Why would it be different with blogs? Debbie Weil wrote about corporate blogs on the economic crisis, what crisis? analyzing a few of the blogs she follows.
Companies do want to look and sound like they have their act together. Less than that and they would undermine the confidence of their customers and employees. Yet, as Weil points out, this is an opportunity lost. Many companies have much to tell us, or can educate us, on what this all means.
Having been involved in internal communications, I know that starting a dialogue with employees about where things stand and giving them the opportunity to ask questions can be good for an organization. This is a difficult task for leaders, as they may not really have all the facts, or may not know the ripple effects of the current situation downstream. However, burying your head in the sand and pretending that all is peachy, as my British friends used to say, may ultimately be worse.
Timing is not ideal - many companies are in the midst of budget season negotiations. Consider that it is in times of need and distress that leaders are born - individuals and companies. There is never greater opportunity as that earned in uncertain times. It does not stop with employees. Too many companies are still running on the mindset that "we keep it all in the family".
Have that conversation with your customers. Get closer to them. Take this opportunity to put things in perspective for them, share how you add value. Honest, candid conversations can cast a business into a good light. We are after all social creatures. This is an opportunity to showcase operations and customer service groups who have truly served customers. Today at Fast Company Expert blog, I talk about the top ten customer service success factors. Customer service is your business best bet.
Would you tell your customers and employees the truth about where things are? Why? Why not?
[image of E.M. Escher Crystal Ball, Stephanie Cates]