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Leading through challenging times
8 June, 2012 - 09:14
In this month’s instalment of ‘It’s simply my opinion’, communicator Jennifer Mooney offers tips to inspire employees with positive communication resulting in organizational unity.
By Jennifer Mooney
Joan Didion, timeless American writer, published a collection of her works entitled “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” She knows a thing or two about pressing on in the most personally challenging circumstances. She lost her husband and daughter within about a year’s time.
Perseverance impacts each of us – no matter our organization or profession.
The convergence of psychology plus communications instructs that as humans we seek to reach the highest rung of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This means that we ascend from “basic needs” (food, water, excretion) and ultimately get to self-actualize.
Today’s international conversation is populated with words and images that portray challenged personal economics as well as what appears to be a long haul towards recovery. This involves each of us as we work smarter, longer, faster and more deliberately. Globalization means that we each compete with one another – person-to-person – nation–to–nation.
Our own conversations with ourselves, our families and our employers are rife with words of perseverance. This is not a time for the faint of heart.
Corporate life in 2012
Much like life in the 1930's and other historically challenged times, we struggle. We tell ourselves and our organizations stories that get us through the day.
No matter where we live, the message of 2012 is clear. These times require us to be vigilant and parsimonious. As organizational leaders, we must do more with less and ensure that our workers deliver optimally again and again.
We often hear of the creative and “idea” development process. How it cannot be rushed. How did deadlines impact the likes of Steve Jobs and other visionaries? Ideas don’t come to us just because a deadline is upon us. Much like a DNA test – the thinking has to run its course. Yet, time is tight, competition is fierce – and the velocity at which data “comes at us” is rapid.
We collectively wonder how? How can we expect our workers and ourselves to develop solutions and answers? How can we encourage a positive internal attitude with so much pressure bearing down from outside?
While there is not a simple answer, this is the time to be as succinct as possible. This is the time to unite, rather than divide and to speak with a unified organizational voice. Messaging and planning inside of each of our collective workforce homes has never been more important.
Strong leadership maintains vigilance to ensure organizational unity.
Know who you are
This is the time to take those few much needed hours to go offsite and ensure that all leadership is on the same page. What is it that your organization offers? Who do you serve? What products and services differentiate your cause? Leadership must coalesce around the answers to these questions.
Ensure that you are purpose-driven
People do not work for money alone. We work to contribute to the planet and to leave a legacy. Each of our organizations makes things or contributes ideas to the world. Ensure that your workers know that this is.
Know how to talk about it
While it is easy to write a dissertation about these questions – your work force will be lost after the first four thoughts. Develop one internal message with four supporting messaging points. Stick to it. Parrot it. Ensue that all workers across your organization hear the same sentiment.
Join together and meet with your employees. A few small breakfast snacks, T-shirts and signage goes the distance. Sometimes it’s important to get folks together just for the sake of getting together.
There is nothing humans want more than to be part of something that feels good. We really just want to be happy. Happiness comes in the form of work that feels both productive and fun.
Former American Psychological Association (APA) President Martin Seligman has staked his career on the study of positive psychology. He writes about the need for us each to be realistic. He also emphasizes the need to be “happy” and that is an underrated virtue. Importantly, those who harness happiness persevere.
Clearly, some initiatives are born of ill intention and succeed and some of goodness and fail. It is up to each of us to determine of what we want to be a part and how seriously we are willing to commit to the proposition. Like Didion understands, it is often the words and thoughts that we embark upon that get us through the day.
As communicators, it is our responsibility to use the best version of what we are to explain and educate others. Often these others work next to us and for us. It is up to each of us to leverage the good and inspire.
About Jennifer Mooney
Jennifer Mooney is the Executive Communications Director of Northlich. She holds an MA in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
Ms. Mooney spent over two decades in the corporate sector and was a Corporate Vice President for Time Warner Cable. She was part of the media revolution and deployment of the United States largest network that enabled deployment of Web 2.0.
Her expertise includes organizational psychology, crisis management internal/external communications, reputation management, word-of-mouth, philanthropy, government relations and public relations. She has spent recent years in the client services industry and represents clients in health/wellness, food/restaurant, financial services, charitable causes and general issues management.
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