I've always believed employees were a key constituent audience, especially in times of crisis. As a matter of fact, I've counseled countless clients to consider employees their most important audience since they are any organization's first line of defense. But, I was wrong. Employees aren't a key constituent audience. In fact, they shouldn't even be labeled as such.
Anthony Johndrow of The Reputation Institute hit the nail on the head in our webinar yesterday when he said employees should be treated as partners and colleagues, not as an "audience." He is so right.
Traditional, top down communications has been totally disintermediated by the blogosphere and word-of-mouth. Honest, transparent and frank discussions with employees on a peer-to-peer level are the only way to go in the current economic crisis, said Kathryn Williams of KRW, a leadership/executive coaching firm and another webinar panelist.
Johndrow concurred and said specificity is the key to lessening employee angst and fear of job loss. "The more they know exactly what's expected of them and how they can contribute to the bottom-line, the more likely they are to stay focused on the task at hand and not get caught up in the rumor mill," he said.
The webinar was a fascinating exercise that focused on how each and every one of us can become "heroes" within our organization. Panelists agreed heroes need to be honest, transparent, open to taking risks and, above all, a calm, steadying influence. Those are tall orders in the 24×7 all doom, all-the-time world in which we all live.
But, as was the case in past crises, the cream will rise to the top and new heroes will be anointed. And, each one will instinctively "get" that every employee within their organization is a colleague with whom to collaborate and not a constituent audience member to be talked at.