Thursday, July 2, 2009

Are You Communicating Effectively In This Economic Crisis?

Not all crises involve explosions, violence, high winds, flooding, fraud or mismanagement.

The whole world is working (or not) its way through the economic recession and for many organizations -- for-profit and not-for-profit -- it has become a very real crisis.

If your organization has never considered "communication" important, now is the time to reconsider.

If you are not communicating regularly and clearly with your internal audiences, as well as your external audiences, you are increasing the odds your business or organization will not come out well on the other side of this economic train-wreck.

Let's start with employees and partners:

Everyone talks to someone else within an organization. They are either talking about the facts or the rumors. If its your organization, which do you want them talking about and repeating outside the office or plant or store? There's only one place they are going to get the real facts and that's from the leadership/management.

If you are responsible and you are not out talking to your people, explaining the true situation and what you are doing about it, and reassuring those people you will get through this together, then you are, by default, sending a message that will do far more harm than good.

Employees and their families are likely living day-to-day, worrying about their jobs and what they will do if your business has to cut back more or even fails. Productivity needs to be at its peak right now, but worried employees are not going to be performing at their best.

Now, about customers, investors, and vendors:

Investors have been having second thoughts about putting any more money into your operation or anyone else's, for that matter. You need to be reaching out to them with information about what you're doing to keep your business headed in the right direction and reassuring them that you're still a good investment.

Customers have been considering their options for months -- will you be there when they need your product or service? Will you maintain quality and dependability and a reasonable price? You MUST be communicating effectively, often and reassuringly.

Vendors and suppliers need to hear from you, too.

Do not mislead anyone. A bleak, but honest report, is better than no report to these key audiences and a misleading report is even worse.

When you explain your difficulties to key audiences and ask them to help you work through them, you will likely be surprised to find support from places you never expected. When you keep those same key audiences in the dark, they'll leave you in the dark, when you need them most.

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