In most corporations communications are controlled. Management doesn’t always tell the whole story to employees yet employees usually always figure out what is the real story. The same applies to suppliers and customers.
Controlling communications is an attempt to control or manipulate outcomes. The process has and will never work yet managers, corporations and institutions continue in their belief that hiding the real story is to their benefit.
Times are tough and markets are in a reduction mindset. Businesses are cutting back because sales are falling and expenses are going up. Management decides it needs to cut expenses so layoffs are inevitable. Management meets and decides what and who to cut.
Employees feel the tension and wonder how safe is their job. Employees begin to talk amoungst themselves and rumors begin to spread like wildfire. When confronted by the employees management denies the rumors and acts as if everything is ok. A week or a month later people are let go and those remaining don’t understand why certain people, their friends, were let go and wonder when the next cut will come.
Whatever future communications come from management is discounted as spin and distrust permeates like a virus contaminating everyone in the organization. And we wonder why people don’t trust what businesses say.
Scott Degraffenreid writes: Communication is the cornerstone of business. Being able to deliver and receive information in an accurate and timely manner is simultaneously the most fundamental and critical business process. Communication is also essential to the development and effectiveness of all human social networks.
As Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger wrote in their Cluetrain Manifesto back in 1999: Increasingly, we value only two qualities:
- The engagement and passion-for-quality of genuine craft
- Conversations among recognizably human voices
The simple, if painful, prognosis: organizations must encourage and engage in genuine conversation with workers and markets – or go belly up.
People like to know the whole story. Empowered and enabled people will find or create stories and share it one to one to millions. People don’t like to be controlled. If you think you can control people with lies you loose.