22-April-2011Published in: Ladue News Section: Commerce Matters
Business has embraced social media. Around the world more and more industry leaders are seeing the advantage to the almost instantaneous and far-reaching communication tools now available on line. 500 million people like, post and poke each other on Facebook. DM's from 110 thousand Twitter users fly on line everyday and LinkedIn is giving more professionals a networking edge throughout the world. But while industry leaders are eager to jump on this communication band wagon to promote and sell their product, work ethics or mission to the public many are leaving their most important resource out of the information loop: their employees.
The Credible Company by author Roger D'Aprix is an argument for business leaders put their employees at the front of the line when it comes to communication. Penned by an expert internationally known for his communication strategy work with scores of Fortune 500 companies, The Credible Company outlines not only the reasons the information links with workers need to stay intact but also how to strengthen them with some practical and effective advice. No longer are workers the cost of doing business, D'Aprix writes. They are in these times of lean resources the means. Added to that is an increasingly complex global economy where employees now work between companies and across borders and an increased skepticism from employees about the communication they receive at work. The result is angst among a workforce that not only affects performance and output but also erodes confidence and trust.
Preventing this is easy, says the author, who has identified several principals for any organization which wants to improve communication, embrace employee enthusiasm and maintain trust among its workers. INFORMS is the acronym D'Aprix uses to pull his principals together: Information, Needs on the job, Face-to-face, Openness, Research, Marketplace, and Strategy.
Scattered throughout The Credible Company are lessons learned directly by the author from a career of communication in the business world. Some herald the success stories. Others are mistakes none of us want to make. Take D'Aprix's experience at Xerox in the early 1980's as an example. Just weeks after proposing a "full employment" policy essentially guaranteeing certain employees lifetime job security, D'Aprix learned of management's plan to lay off up to 15% of its workers. Overwhelmed by the reversal of policy but determined to implement a plan for internal communications of the issue, D'Aprix found himself facing a leadership group who refused to talk to their employees. The results were devastating. Rumors elevated the number of workers to be fired; the media bombarded Xerox with questions and market shares collapsed. The inability of senior leaders and communication professionals to work together blew up a problem that would send Xerox into a tailspin. Only after seven long years would the industry leader pull out of its dive.
The Credible Company is a quick read of less than 160 pages from cover to cover. But its size is no reflection on the importance of its essential message and the ease that we can all put the author's ideas and experience to work. In today's ever-changing world, communication professionals need to realize the importance of information to a skeptical audience and organizations must recognize the need to become more transparent. As I write this our political leaders have only just averted a government shutdown. I can't help to wonder whether an agreement might have been reached before the 11th hour if some of our elected had copies of The Credible Company in their briefcases.