Duncan Hopwood

Take their gags off and let people sing

January 13, 2016

With whistleblowers and spooks dominating the headlines, questions about secrecy, privacy and loyalty are topping commentators’ agendas.

These subjects affect all organisations to some extent, especially now that information is so portable via social media.

Do managers trust their people to keep the organisation’s secrets or do they rely on confidentiality clauses? Are customers told the whole truth? Do stakeholders know what’s going on?

Many organisations have a negative attitude to information. Their default position is to keep things under wraps. This is true, above all, when it comes to anything that might possibly be considered to be bad news.

Social media do indeed provide new avenues for bad news to be let slip, but a nervous approach to these channels is the wrong one.

There are few organisations that can exist in secrecy and who have no need to communicate with some audience or other. Failing to make use of these effective new channels is a mistake.

In the cacophony of information, organisations need to make a noise to get noticed. Open, outgoing, PR-savvy organisations know this, and go for it. In contrast, the silent, secretive organisation won’t be heard.

Organisations, products, services and people are being talked about on social media. Failing to engage, and starving social media of information, simply leaves a gap for others to influence how the organisation is seen.

Managing the challenge of social media requires a certain amount of risk-taking but not as much as most people think, especially for enlightened organisations that don’t exist in a world of secrecy.

Instead of gagging people, organisations should be finding ways to inspire, support and guide them. Then free them up to sing out loud.