CHELSEA — You’ll have to ask my friend Chris. I told him at lunch yesterday that I thought Bob Diamond had done himself in with his letter to employees on Monday.
By last night that was being reported.
I have seen a lot of letters to employees and Mr Diamond’s just didn’t hit the right notes. It felt like it had been concocted by too many people. And with too many different objectives in mind.
Mr Diamond had one job only with employees this week: contrition.
And his letter was not that.
It was anger. Anger and defiance.
Language was a key component.
And the language was almost Shakespearean. Unfortunately it was King Lear, or Macbeth. The forest was approaching the castle. And all the CEO had to say was, “I am a man more sinned against than sinning.”
The choice of words from Mr Diamond is worth closer inspection:
- Culture — 8 uses
- Behaviour(s) — 7 uses
- Great — 4 uses
- Trust — 4 uses
- Sorry — 2 uses
- Love — 2 uses
- Wrong — 1 use
Here’s what the whole letter to employees looks like as a word cloud (word size = frequency):
It makes me think about how any job actually requires people to think about communications, and other soft things like emotions, preconceptions and attitudes.
There’s a scene in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral that I like. In a pub, late at night, two wedding guests meet and talk about the groom:
Man: Where do you know him from?
Charles: Splendid. Yep.
Man: I didn’t go myself. I couldn’t see the point. When you work in the money markets, what use is Wordsworth, eh?
Maybe a bit more Wordsworth might have come in handy this time.