In times of crisis, don’t leave your people hacked off

July, 28 – BY TAM SANDEMAN – I, like everyone, have been continuing to watch drama unfold in Blighty around the News of the World hacking scandal. Fascinating for many reasons.

But I can’t help to wonder how those employees not allegedly involved in these terrible practices are feeling.  How they were communicated to?  How the leaders of News International will now look to rebuild the trust within their organisation globally. What would also be interesting to know, particularly given the fact that this story was going to blow will have been known for some time, what role internal communication has played in their crisis plan.

Many organisations face this internal challenge when they are dealing with a crisis – ‘what and when do we tell our people’. But it really shouldn’t even be a question. You should tell them first, or at the least simultaneously. An organisation’s people can be one of the most powerful assets a company has when it comes to delivering an authentic voice to the outside world, and are often overlooked with many companies choosing (wrongly) to worry about the outside first. We tend to find ourselves focusing on ‘statements to the media’, but the same focus should be given to employees too.

My advice for businesses to be one step ahead in this regard is to:

R – emember your cascade plan – make sure you’re engaging your middle managers in the process

U – pdate your crisis plan – have a look and check that talking to your people is a key part of the process

P – eople –  remember they are a powerful communication channel – use them

E – mail – BANISH this in times of crisis – face to face communication is critical

R – educe – restrictions on social media – your people can be a powerful force online for you – trust them

T – imeliness – communicate in a timely manner – take the inside out approach – not the other way round

In most cases, your people want to help – so manage it and let them.