Lately, it seems like there is one new corporate crisis after another in the headlines. Some of the largest, most visible, and successful companies are being forced to publicly apologize while feverishly attempting to convince their customers that these unfortunate incidents are only isolated blips that don’t imply the presence of any systemic organizational issues.
What’s going on here?
Is it arrogance, weak leadership, corporate greed, human error, or bureaucracy? Or is it simply the newfound social media cautionary tale?
Make no mistake—systemic issues are at play and there is a connection among all of these communications crises.
While evolving technology has increased the number of brand touchpoints available for instantaneous distribution of damaging content to millions of people, technology is not the root cause of this dysfunction. The corporate dysfunction isn’t new either. In reality, organizations and people haven’t changed; there has always been corporate dysfunction.
The very DNA of an organization is revealed through each and every touchpoint. When interactions reveal weakness, deeper problems within the organization are exposed. In an interconnected world where companies can fall from grace in hours, it has never been more important for leaders to address the common thread that creates corporate crises: a lack of clarity that originates at the very core of the organization.
Clarity is what happens when leaders take a holistic view of their strategy, people, and story—and ensure that there is alignment with each.
An outcome of alignment is a sustainable, positive culture with strong leadership. With clarity, employees at every level know how to live out the vision, mission, and purpose of the organization. They understand the behaviors expected of them every day. This clarity guides the people who work for the company and provides the reason for everyone to come together and serve.
It is this DNA that is the soul of an organization and drives decision-making, profits, and improves performance. Finding and leveraging that clarity is the difference between:
- A spokesperson communicating a difficult decision or creating an entirely new crisis.
- Customers believing the firm does care about their privacy or that everyone is management is a liar.
- A passenger walking off an airplane or being dragged off; a pet arriving at its destination alive or dead.
- Being seen as being committed to doing more to solve domestic and sexual violence issues or seen a being more interested in damage control.
- Being revered for your role as one of the leading technology disruptors in the world or being reviled for the way you treat your employees and customers.
The digital economy has forced leaders to prioritize trust, transparency, and authenticity. It is no longer possible to explain our way out of crises or dysfunction. We must understand that the most contrite apology statements, countless refunds, or discounts will not fix crises that reveal systemic dysfunction.
Many examples of great companies that have successfully overcome public relations crises with openness, honesty, and empathy exist. The company names may not be at as memorable. But thanks to the clarity within their organizations, their customers forgave them, and in many cases, the connection with those brands actually improved.
The key to successfully managing any public relations challenge today is to find organizational clarity before the crisis happens.
Have you found organizational clarity?
Today’s guest contributor is Brad Deutser, president of Deutser LLC , a consulting firm that advises leaders and organizations about achieving clarity, especially in times of transition, growth or crisis.
Image source before quote: Pixabay
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Many traits are associated with strong leaders: being confident, passionate, and decisive.
But one critical leadership characteristic that doesn’t get the attention it deserves is “gratitude,” which mean letting employees know their hard work is appreciated.
The best leaders do two things:
1) They say, “Thank you” to their employees, and
2) They take the time to be grateful for themselves and for where they are today.
The power of any organization is the collective energy of the people. Strong leaders recognize their people form the soul of the company and are directly responsible for the success of the organization.
When employees feel they’re working for a leader who is engaged and is thankful for their efforts, it creates a better environment, instills loyalty, and drives performance inside and outside the company.
If leaders don’t take the time to thank and appreciate their people, they’re missing the greatest opportunity to connect with them. People respond to gratitude, which makes the work they do more meaningful to them, which in turn is more impactful to the leader.
Expressing gratitude is a simple motivator that makes people happy.
Happy employees mean greater productivity. Shawn Achor, Harvard researcher and author of The Happiness Advantage, has demonstrated through his research that when people work with a positive mindset they perform better in the face of a challenge and every business outcome improves.
3 things to know about gratitude
If you want to increase happiness, productivity, and be a better leader, there’s three things you need to know about gratitude and its impacts on an organization’s culture:
• Authenticity is essential.
People aren’t fooled by insincerity. Gratitude is something leaders need to really feel. They can’t fake it because they’ve been told it’s important. If their gratitude doesn’t come across as real or if it’s not founded in something they are truly grateful for, their inauthenticity shows through.
The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated. ~William James
- Gratitude is a perspective shifter.
When the boss routinely expresses gratitude, employees are inspired to take on challenging situations and reframe them in a way that reminds them something positive and good comes from them. Showing authentic gratitude creates positive energy and a positive workforce. Smart leaders understand the direct correlation between positivity and performance.
Gratitude always comes into play; research shows that people are happier if they are grateful for the positive things in their lives, rather than worrying about what might be missing. ~Dan Buettner
- Being willing to show gratitude rubs off on others.
Gratitude is contagious. When people in an organization see their leader doing it, they follow along, which makes an organization’s culture even more positive. We live in a world where we’re bombarded with negativity. When leaders inject gratitude by being grateful for what is good, for what is pure, for what is true, for what is real, and for what is right, they’re able to change the environment.
None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy. ~Fred De Witt Van Amburgh
Everyone likes being told they’ve done well and are appreciated. The more appreciated people feel, the more willing they are to do a great job the next time, and everyone wins…employees, leaders, and the organization.
Today’s guest contributor is Brad Deutser, president of Deutser LLC, a consulting firm that advises leaders and organizations about achieving clarity especially in times of transition, growth or crisis.
Image credit before quote: Pixabay
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Frequent fliers may look back on 2017 as the year those supposedly “friendly skies” turned into “chaotic clouds.”
The list of airlines in trouble seemed to grow by the day, whether it was cancelled flights that led to near riots, prize rabbits dying in the cargo hold or roughed up passengers who declined to be bumped from their seats. Something definitely has been amiss in the airline industry.
Beyond getting past the negative media coverage, if an airline, or any company for that matter, wants to right the foundering ship, someone should do a deep dive into the company culture.
Any business leader needs to understand that their ultimate success starts with what happens on the inside of the organization. If the people inside the company aren’t aligned and in synch with the company’s values and goals, then the result is going to be confusion and turmoil that eventually will affect the brand’s overall performance.
A few airlines are experiencing that right now, but plenty of other businesses do as well.
3 steps to get company culture back on track
A lot goes into setting things right when culture goes awry, but three important steps that should be taken are:
- Strive for organizational clarity.
The most critical ingredient to achieving business success is clarity, and that includes clarity of the organization’s purpose, vision, and the roles of those involved in carrying out that purpose and vision. If leaders are fuzzy on the goals they have for a business or organization, then those charged with accomplishing those goals are less likely to succeed
Keeping an upbeat atmosphere is essential to a company’s culture. You want your employees to be happy. If you can find a way to encourage a positive outlook and attitude, employees will be more motivated and will perform their jobs better.
- Go in search of what’s right in the company.
When businesses want to improve, they typically focus on what’s wrong or what’s broken. It just seems to make sense to address head-on whatever difficulty has arisen. This approach should be flipped on its head. The right question isn’t What are we doing wrong? It’s What are we doing right? What are the great nuggets inside that organization that can take us to a different place, to a different height?’
If you understand where the company culture is right, you can duplicate those practices in the areas where the problems are.
Just about any company will hit a bumpy stretch somewhere along the way. When that happens, it may be time to explore its culture, re-evaluate how it operates, and re-imagine what its future can be.
Brad Deutser is president of Deutser LLC, a consulting firm that advises leaders and organizations about achieving clarity especially in times of transition, growth or crisis.
Image credit: Pixabay
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