Multinationals when influenced by geo-political perspectives, are often faced with hard choices while communicating actions for their global offices and workforces. Timing matters. Yet organizations need to balance actions with tact and empathy considering their choices impact staff, customers, partners and prospective hires. Especially, when organizations have global business operations, engage with customers or staff in the impacted regions, it is harder to make relevant decisions. However, the world is watching every action – an internal memo, the social media post, the leader’s body language, the speed of engagement and more. Overall, to be perceived as an authentic and committed global citizen, walking the talk matters post.
Based on the flashpoints and situations unfolding across the globe, there are internal communication considerations that organizations can factor in to be valued for their thoughts, words and deeds.
- Standing by vs taking a stand
Staying passive is no longer an option. The pandemic has taught us that brands and leaders are expected to be values-led and those that prioritized empathy over profits were viewed as organizations of repute. Passivity is frowned upon. Decisive actions are the need of the hour when the geo-political situations evolve rapidly. Taking a stand isn’t about a hashtag or replacing a banner on the corporate page. It is about genuinely believing and exhibiting the values on which the organization is founded. Also, there are citizen actions taking place all the time and employee activism is on the rise. Not knowing the value of the community interventions your staff does beyond their regular work schedules, and in their own time, is disrespectful and demonstrates a lack of organizational listening abilities. Those organizations and leaders who can tap into staff’s positive energy and drive will emerge successful overall.
- Management by committee vs purpose-led teams
Just being focused on business priorities over community responsiveness isn’t right. Organizations can do financially well and yet be doing good for the community. Purpose is what drives this behavior. The latter is inclined to consider real-time needs on the ground. Direct interventions rather than forced actions. Groupthink creeps in when unwieldy groups with limited information access and context make decisions that impact a broad section of stakeholders. This leads to less-than-optimal decision making and even at times, flawed thinking and recommendations. Unreeling the negative fallouts from bad decisions exhaust useful resources and valuable time.
- Bottom-up vs top-down
Hierarchical organizational structures can come in the way of moving fast and getting the best resources in place, when needed. To make the most of your organization’s most valuable resources – your staff, is to listen, involve and partner with them. Due to the democratization of information access, in today’s world, it isn’t unrealistic to believe that staff know more than managers and leaders do, and beforehand. Employee voice is crucial. So is bottom-up leadership. Empowering staff by giving them to access, space and funding will have a powerful ripple effect than handpicking ‘trusted’ people who can be included for implementing decisions made.
- Centralization vs autonomy
Organizations, especially after the pandemic, have begun operating in ways that recognize local nuances. Giving flexibility and ownership to regional and local teams to make coherent and critical decisions will mean letting go of control. The best ideas and the strongest leadership can come from any part of the organization. When organizations are willing to open their minds to this shift, a lot more can happen, including innovations that transform the business. In the end, the benefits far outweigh the cons. Not valuing the knowledge, skills and expertise of local teams can cause resentment, misalignment and worse – apathy.
- Inside-out vs outside-in
Nothing can be more powerful than staff proudly sharing and talking of their organization’s actions – for or against the grain. Staff respect leaders and organizations who are foresighted and not reluctant to call a spade, a spade. The inside-out reactions surface positive sentiments while have wider ramifications on the brand, reputation and the ability to attract talent. However, staff need to feel psychologically safe to air their views – internally and externally. On the other hand, the outside-in approach of sharing ‘nice-to-say’ messages will be perceived as inauthentic by staff if they aren’t lived beliefs within the organization. The damage from such negative fallouts is harder to recover from, going by past brand disasters the world has experienced over the years.
Positively changing organizational approaches and mindsets to consider geo-political nuances can result in a sense of belongingness, pride and commitment, much needed in times of rising attrition and lower engagement levels across the board. Geo-political challenges are often opportunities in disguise. Leaders and communicators who reflect and realize the potential of changing their stance, can reap the best results.
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