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  • Writer's pictureVinay Kalliat

Downturn? You need MORE communications, not less

Updated: Aug 3, 2022

We hear a lot about battles and wars these days…whether it is the war to attract and retain talent, or the war in Ukraine that has upended the global sense of order and predictability. Either way, these unfortunate incidents have caused sleepless nights for people at all levels across all companies.

Management teams cope with these changes in quite the same way as soldiers on a battlefield…they cut back on what they believe are 'frills' and hunker down in the trenches till the clouds pass. What companies consider ‘non-value-add’ work is quickly deleted from their spreadsheets. One of the first ‘line items’ to face the axe is communications programmes. It is seen as an expense that is merely ‘nice to have’ and ‘something we can do without until things improve’. This is a mistake.

Here’s why…

Think about the first ‘assets’ that the enemy takes out at the beginning of the first skirmishes…it’s the command and communications centres. Why? Eliminate the command and communications centres and the frontline troops break ranks and are left rudderless — resulting in a loss of morale and easy pickings for the enemy’s propaganda machine (again, communications) to take hold of their senses, hearts and minds.

Contrast this with a battlespace where communication centres are safeguarded and provide reliable, timely and useful information to everyone. The tide of battle has been turned on many occasions when communication systems work well - allowing armies to snatch victory from the hands of defeat. We all love a good story where the underdog comes up as a winner, we often forget that communications and collaboration played a key role in the victory.

The bigger, more complex and more disruptive any situation becomes, the more important communication becomes. We all know this. We need to practice this credo of giving communications its due importance.

Companies of all sizes are going through tectonic shifts in their businesses and business models. Mergers, acquisitions, hostile takeovers, share buybacks, IPOs, layoffs, new business models and many other activities happen (sometimes) simultaneously. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a wave that will bring with it more opportunities and a chance to move to a higher level of operating efficiency and even more possibilities.

The Senior Management in most companies is aware of what’s happening. They are excited about the opportunities that these changes in the business will bring for the company and the staff.

But what about the frontline operatives at the forefront of customer experience? Are they aware of the changes? Are they motivated and tied into the greater purpose and plans of the company? Are they ‘just along for the ride’ or are they in the driver’s seat? Are they tired of the changes and okay with things as long as their jobs are safe?

Or are they also clued-in and raring to go ahead with the same excitement?

The difference between either attitude lies in the presence (or absence) of a clear communications channel.

Communications can tilt the axis of a company’s balance sheet. Communications can ensure the longevity of a team. Communications can mean the beginning of a new chapter in the success of an organisation.

Cutting back on communications during a downturn, when one needs it more than ever, can have the opposite outcome. It can mean being on the side of the battlefield where soldiers are running amok, lost and clueless, unable to see the advancing enemy among the carnage and 'fog of war'

Communications can either make you the vanquished or the victor. So which side do you want to be on?

Let’s communicate MORE, not less.

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