It is a common complaint in life: lack of proper communication. Most organizations have a communication plan, but forget to update them when the organization chart, processes or infrastructure changes. Or communication plans are unknown or unfollowed. A pity, because not only it takes a lot of time and effort to write it, a proper communication plan can prevent so many issues.
Recently, I have applied for a function within a large national organization. All well, and I got through the first two rounds of meetings. But when a date was set for the third and final round, I received a message. An other – covering – department was to take over this meeting. This was communicated only one day earlier, but it had taken effect immediately. No, it was not known when the new meeting would take place, this could take weeks to months.
And that was that.
Stakeholders, a matter of perspective
What the covering department had forgotten, is how to deal with their stakeholders’ stakeholders. After all, not only did the process change immediately. Their stakeholders (the departments) had to inform their own stakeholders (their applicants, in this case). Likely, the covering department did not even consider applicants as stakeholders. Not a smart move, because even though the financial risk is neglectible in this particular case, it does not improve the image of the organization as a whole. And a negative image is easy to obtain, but hard to recover from.
Likely, you have a proper communication strategy, completed with a communication plan, which is regularly updated. Basically everything is covered, from paper publications to social media, from internal to external. Ah… Wait. External. Of course, you have taken your stakeholders’ stakeholders into consideration. You understand that it will take some time to have them informed about the new or adjusted process and you have provided in enough time to reset meetings, adjust agreements and so on. And of course, all departments are aware of this. Are they?
Again, changing a meeting with an applicant carries not too much financial risk. And there are lots of others, who are no immediate risk to your organization. What they can be, are passive risks. Especially when they are potential customers. Do not underestimate the power of networking and social media. Negative publicity is easily spread and can go viral.
Taking your stakeholders’ stakeholders into consideration when writing or updating a communication plan and when implementing new or adjusted processes can create a level of understanding and so prevent negative publicity.
I do believe that it should not matter whether you work in a commercial or public organization. Create understanding. Create customers satisfaction. Don’t forget your stakeholders’ stakeholders.