The crunch has come. A hurricane of market winds blow around us and perhaps no-one knows when they will die down and what devastation they will leave. Whilst positive social change may come of this in that capitalism becomes less ‘selfish’, it certainly seems that Oliver James is right and our materialistic society is making us ill, physically and mentally (and perhaps giving the economy IBS – my interpretation!).
Listen to Oliver James, author of ‘Affluenza’ and ‘The Selfish Capitalist’, who talks about how our social fabric might change on Radio 4′s Today Programme today.
For communicators we need to understand the concerns of employees, because what people think about, affects their attitudes and behaviours; and many people are feeling worried, poor and scared at the moment. A recent IPSOS-MORI poll, on a base of 2,000 people, showed that nearly half the public believe that the economy is the most important issue facing Britain today. Employees are worried. They may feel that they are in the firing line, or that they are suddenly forced into more of a parent-child relationship with their employer, or simply feel suddenly poor (loss of bonuses, no pay rises). All of these feelings will leave people feeling unmotivated, despondent and they will start to look for escape routes and lifeboats.
This will have a direct impact on performance, so it becomes even more important to communicate with employees. I recently interviewed Stephen Welch is head of media and communications consulting at Hay Group , Hay Group’s research highlights the appalling state of strategic communications in most organisations and Stephen gives some advice on how to keep people motivated particularly in tough times.
Hay Group research also showed that half of leaders in organisations today destroy value through their leadership style. Whilst part of this is about communicating, it is largely down to the coercive or pace setting approach to leadership which predominates our Western approach to leadership yet is not effective in managing capacity in the long term.
Leaders need to be able to communicate, or rather to facilitate dialogue and communication that energises employees towards a shared, even co-created, vision. Managers who adopt more of a coaching style and get employees’ input into the direction of organisational strategy, are leaders who can add value to their organisations.