I just read a great article in Harvard Business Publishing, “In a downturn, please put aside pathetic platitudes,” written by John Baldoni. The reason this is a great article is that it is “in your face” accurate on what really shouldn’t be going on in organizations.
John states in the article that when times are tough and the economy is either weakening, is already weak or is headed downward, don’t try and cover it up with “things are going well” type comments to employees – be straight with them and be TRANSPARENT. Everyone knows this is happening, so why are we making excuses that it isn’t or it isn’t as bad over here or over there – just be straight. There is too much information easily obtainable today that would warrant this type of behavior. Yet, many if not most organizations today continue to play this pathetic game of cat and mouse with employees.
OK, let’s turn the tables a bit on this same subject. What about your CUSTOMERS? Don’t you think they deserve the same treatment? Absolutely YES!! Why would an organization try to paint a different picture for their customers when they, in most likelihood, realize things are tough and as such you should be straight with them as well. It is really pathetic when a company tells their customers “hey, things are going well for us” and then they lay off 20% of their employees – duh? Customers aren’t stupid and when you treat them like they are, guess what happens – they DEFECT and buy from your competitors.
The goal of any organization should be to be as transparent as possible to their customers and form greater partnering opportunities and situations where they share more information with their customers. Customers realize you need to make a profit so why hide it – be up front with it. Customers know you have to operate in certain ways to make their life as easy as possible, don’t hide that either. And most certainly customers figure out when you are in trouble as a company or not – don’t hide that either. Instead, adopt a philosophy of TRANSARENCY with both your customers and employees and you will benefit greatly.
Remember, Loyalty, whether it be employee loyalty or customer loyalty, is an end state. It is built on a foundation of trust. Trust is built on a foundation of making and keeping your promises and being transparent with your customers and employees. Don’t think you can get to loyalty and skip trust – hasn’t ever worked and never will. Spend the time, invest in your people and your customers and above all, be transperant and straight with both of them. The rewards will far outweigh any additional costs or hardships you might endure.