Ancient wisdom has modern applications
While it’s widely accepted that solid internal communication is a cornerstone of strong companies, when it comes to putting down the dollars the vast majority balk at including this vital tool in their crisis management and public relations planning.
In a recent blog post, PR pro Becky Sheetz-Runkle applied the teachings of battlefield philosopher Sun Tzu to internal communication, illustrating exactly why it is so important:
Sun Tzu called for clear communication for armies to function smoothly and avoid threats:
“If the army is confused and suspicious, neighboring rulers will take advantage of this and cause trouble. This is simply bringing anarchy into the army and flinging victory away.”
As with much of Sun Tzu, the application for business is clear. Misinformation and rumors spread like the diseases they sometimes become. In good times and especially challenging times, it’s easy for suspicion and speculation to impact the morale and the productivity of people. As Sun Tzu warns, it leads to loss.
Care and treatment of people on literal and metaphorical battlefields is essential. Employees can’t feel valued if they aren’t being communicated with effectively and meaningfully:
“Pay attention to the soldiers’ well-being and do not fatigue them. Try to keep them in high spirits and conserve their energy.”
Sun Tzu knew that an organization that moved as one, understood the strategy and had a healthy fighting spirit had the advantage. Do the decision makers you work with share that outlook? If we follow the money, we can see that many put very little stock in communicating with the troops, and they do it to their detriment.
While the specifics can be complicated, the objectives are not. Keep employees free of the stress that rumor and innuendo bring by engaging in two-way communication with them, and encouraging them to communicate amongst themselves. Oh, and they work better if they’re happy and not exhausted.
Simple, right? But are you putting it into practice, or just nodding “yes?”
The BCM Blogging Team