Home » Crisis communication » Silence is golden

Silence is golden

Date: Feb 09 2015

I have been very quiet here for a while. I’ve been taking some golden time out to concentrate on my learning and professional development. There’s something I’ve been putting off for too long, and I really needed to crack on with it. So over the last six months I’ve been putting my efforts into my Internal Communication Diploma. It’s been a tough challenge, but one that I really wanted to succeed in. I found the whole process really¬† interesting and inspiring, I had so many new ideas as a result of the reading and interviews I undertook. I carried out a broad study into the links between how an organisation copes with and recovers from crisis and the strength of its internal communication function and levels of employee engagement. My thinking was based upon the idea that many organisations face crises that arise because of their own action or inaction. ‘Their own culture has left them predisposed to crisis’.

open book

Cultures where control and command is normal, where collaboration and openness are rare or absent, where broadcast communication is given priority over dialogue, where change is feared, or where making money is the sole objective. These were the kinds of cultures I was thinking about. Or what has been labelled as toxic cultures in recent media reports about high profile organisational crises.

It’s an organisation’s values that set it apart, that tell the world and it’s people what it stands for and articulates how it actually behaves. Without clear values that are not just written but are true to that organisation, it can become confused and its direction disorientated.

To make my study viable and be comprehensively covered in the scope of my Internal Communication Diploma, I narrowed my study to interview people from four different types of organisation: NHS; local government; private sector and a specialist crisis management agency. I wanted to understand what the practical experiences were from an internal communication perspective during and after a crisis in these different types of organisations. They each presented very different experiences and expectations during the crises that they’d experienced. How they recovered and how they continue to learn from those crises are still ongoing. Some coped much better others, and some had, in part, even improved their reputations following the crisis. What was most interesting was that those with a culture of collaboration and dialogue appeared to cope well with the crisis, finding solutions, working together and continuing to learn from those crises.

I’ll share more about my study and the findings soon, but now I’m working on the #insidestory awards for CIPR Inside and its party to celebrate the winners on 26 February. It’s a brilliant event which I love working on (this is the third year of the awards and I’ve been involved since the start). Seeing so many great examples of internal communication in the award entries come through the shortlist process, and to then organise the celebration is a real honour and great fun.

And by some strange twist, the announcement date for grades for the Internal Communication Diploma is also the 26 February.

It’s going to be a busy, exciting, and I hope proud day.