By Floris Iking *
Few events have won the world’s attention and imagination as the accident and subsequent sinking of
what was once the world’s largest passenger ship, the British ocean liner Titanic.
We all know the story: 15 days after departure from Belfast Harbor, the ship collided with an iceberg on April 15, 1912 at 23:40 hours dramatically sinking into the Atlantic nearly three hours later, according to records from the UK National Archives.
The scenes experienced during those three hours make it possible to make an analogy of what is
traditionally the case when organizations face an ‘iceberg’ or a crisis such as a corporate restructuring or
the liquidation of their operations.
Based on personal experiences accumulated in over two decades of advising various Mexican
organizations that have faced restructurings in the financial, housing, energy or telecommunications
sectors, among others, at A&M we can say that, in times of crises in companies, their collaborators can be divided into two groups, whose behavior matches those recorded in the history of
It is the largest group representing about 75% of people in an organization. Passengers are the majority.
Of this group, some know that something is wrong, but they are still carrying out their regular activities waiting for someone else to resolve the situation. There are also those who are not aware at all of what is taking place, and yet others who take advantage of this stage to make the most in their personal gain, save themselves and throw overboard everything that doesn’t help them achieve it.
Made up of company management, the orchestra makes the journey to
the impending collision against the gigantic mass of ice more bearable. Although they do know where
the boat is headed and that the end could be fatal, they still play the recital that the audience liked so
much in the previous days. The interpretation of their notes shows an absolute departure from reality
and only serves as a distraction in the form of a dysfunctional musical background.
What to do?
In order to maintain, or even raise, the morale of the people who are part of an organization when implementing the strategies of a corporate restructure or facing a crisis of another nature, communication – based on the operational strategy and the reality of the situation – plays a fundamental role.
It is important to understand the five stages of grief – denial, anger, negotiation, depression and
acceptance – that organizations go through during critical situations can influence the tone in a wrong
way, nature and purpose and derail communications.
Content broadcasted in a communication campaign should aim for teams to remain focused on the correct operation of the business, that is, returning to basic principles. Incentive programs for employees based on key performance indicators should also be established; share the progress of the implemented strategies by displaying the result dashboards and also launch talent retention programs.
For stakeholders outside the organization, such as customers, suppliers, or creditors, among others, a central objective of the strategy and communication is to generate peace of mind.
However, for communications to be relevant, it needs to reflect data and facts of generated results, as well as the offer of incentives and the fulfilment of financial commitments.
It is also advisable to activate formal and informal media monitoring platforms – such as newspapers, magazine websites or social network – to monitor, record and measure what is publicly communicated by third parties and to be able to act as a result.
Finally, it is necessary to avoid the emergence of information gaps that can be filled with rumors or speculations that affect the effectiveness of the communication, thus damaging the morale or peace of the audiences to which a company is owed.
*Floris Iking in Founder, Partner and Managing Director at Alvarez & Marsal Mexico.
Copyright 2019 Forbes Mexico. Original article published here.