In a downturn, keep the ‘family’ engaged

Enlist the help of employees in tough times; don’t shut them out.

Smart people can do really dumb things.

We’ve all been there, making bad decisions on important matters out of worry, or fear.

Organizations are like that, too. Only dumber. Consider how many companies are handling the current economic downturn. This is a time when communicators should be earning their keep, helping their leaders decide the best way to convey bad news—and a plan of action to get past it.

Instead, some executives conclude (on their own) that the best possible course of action is to shut down all communications, hunker down behind closed doors, make decisions that affect their employees’ livelihood and then communicate those decisions in a way that makes everyone feel like crap.

Cutting costs? Sure. Everyone wants to do that, especially when the economy slows. Why not enlist the help of the hundreds, or thousands, or tens of thousands of people who might have a good idea about changing what they do just a bit so it wouldn’t cost quite as much. As the smart companies figured out long ago, lots of little changes can add up to real savings—and maybe even save a few jobs.

Even more important, enlisting the help of employees to cut costs lets them know that we’re all in this together.

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