Recession communication: A How to

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PICCADILLY — There’s Barclays Bank taking a beating today about investment from Abu Dhabi. The twin US presidents said to be squabbling over a deal to save General Motors. There’s the on-going HBoS and LloydsTSB merger dance. And the sight of Taylor Wimpey, Tesco and Vodafone trying to catch a break. It’s like seeing what has happened to Sylvester Stallone. Time changes everything.

Here’s what I’d love to see:

1. More business education
Rather than scaring people out of their wits with little information and new media boogeyman every day, why don’t we put some effort into explaining what is going on? To our employees, our partners, our customers. If Mr Leahy’s gang really get one out of every pound spent in the UK, why not volunteer to help educated 1/8th of the population?

It’s not that hard to do. And maybe consumer and investor behaviour can be affected… For the better.

2. Greater transparency
We can talk about our own business more clearly. To my tiny economists’ mind we get into these things when we consistently pretend we are better off than we are. I recognise that a certain amount of bravado is required in all businesses – products (and shares) don’t sell themselves. But how about a bit of candour too. Let’s tell people what is really going on and what we think.

Hey, you know they will regulate it soon if we don’t get better at it.

3. Bring out the boogeymen
I said I am no economist. I was taught economics by a communist in Paris and a Canadian ice hockey star. But it seems straight-forward to me that money from a foreign investor is better than spending public tax money. Again, I am not strong in maths, but why has no one commented that the US $700 billion banking bail-out is the equivalent of $2,300 for every living American?

That seems like a lot, no?

What are we afraid of?

Yesterday someone accused the US President-elect of being a Marxist. Can’t we all grow up a bit?

4. Pay attention to your people
It stand to reason that now would also be a good time to pay more attention to employees rather than less. Maybe it’s just me. Whether they are coming or going, they need to be treated with dignity and respect. We tend to believe that people cannot handle change. And that’s not strictly true. We all change regularly. It’s organisations that can’t handle change, because people in them worry about what each other will do.

If we involve people in the issues and the decisions that need to be made, we may not win everyone over, but we stand the people and the business in much better stead to face the future.

History shows that we will all get through this. One way or the other. It will be faster if we stop holding our breath.


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One Response

  1. snapcomms

    Here, here. I particuarly agree with point 4.
    Perhaps if senior managers realised the impact of insufficient or poor communications on productivity, it would help shift the priorities.

    Workforce Week reported a few weeks ago on a survey that showed that 48 percent of staff said the current economic uncertainty has caused them to be less productive at work:

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