Be Open and Candid…or Someone Else Will
Openness and engagement got a big boost this week, thanks to President Barack Obama.
Mr. Obama unveiled a new initiative: the Office of Public Engagement (OPE)—and declared its purpose to make government “inclusive, transparent, accountable and responsive.” (Read all about it at www.whitehouse.gov/ope.)
Those four principles—inclusive, transparent, accountable and responsible—should by no means be exclusive to the operating practices of the U.S. Government. They readily apply to the work environment of public and private organizations.
Leaders take note: you’ve got to step out from behind the big Green Curtain (think Wizard of Oz and Emerald City) to actively and openly create a culture of inclusiveness IF you want associates at all levels to feel and act as part of your team, rather than a spectator to your game of business.
The risks of distancing yourself and disenfranchising your workforce are way too high. More than fallen morale. More than worker attrition. Your reputation and credibility—as well as those of the organization you represent—are at stake.
Courtesy of cell phones and PDAs, nearly everyone today has the ability to be a 24-hour, seven-day a week broadcaster. These amateur reporters don’t need to stop at the security desk out front in order to gain entry to your facility—they walk right through your main entrance everyday.
Kathleen Hall Jamison, noted author and professor of Communications at University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communications—as well as frequent contributor to several influential news programs—calls them Citizen Journalists.
I had the opportunity to hear Ms. Jamison earlier this month in Chicago, where she spoke of openness, engagement and how the President’s use of technology, engagement and grass-roots, feet-on-the-street communications were key to his successful bid for the presidency.
Briefly, her point was that the new social media outlets and tools should be used judiciously by professional communicators and leaders—and a combination of high-tech and high-touch (2-way, face-to-face) approaches are very effective. Further, while professionals must take care when using the new tools, the people in our organizations do not. There are no rules for them. They comprise the wild, wild west of information sharing. They even have their own language.
Leaders can quickly see that the technological advances in personal communications demands that open and candid communication become an absolute necessity for any organization. Gone are the days when a leader could fire off a memo and have it readily accepted by everyone in the organization—simply because employees had no other options available. Their only link to the “outside” was the company phone and, in most organizations, access to those phone was limited.
Today, anyone can whip their personal broadcast station out of their pocket and instantaneously inform others—voice their support, dissent, outrage, etc.—and even send a graphic along to further document and illustrate their position.
The message to leaders is simple: be open, candid and timely with your communications, because if you don’t communicate, someone else in your organization will. Get familiar with the new technology. How can it help you motivate, inform and engage your people? How can it do exactly the opposite?
In a rapidly changing communications environment, leaders need to stay up with the pace of change—or hire those that can help them understand and leverage it properly. Dulye & Co. can help advise you and your organization on the best ways to use the technology, as well as the most effective ways to communicate with your organization and measure the effectiveness of that communication. If you’d like to know more about our capabilities, call Roger Gibboni at 845.987.7744 or drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.