“You were trying to tell me something and I was trying to tell you something else. We didn’t trust each other and that was reason enough to make each of us right.”
― Elliot Perlman, The Reasons I Won’t Be Coming
Stakeholder analysis and engagement have long been an important part of communications planning and implementation. We identify stakeholders – customers, employees, community – try to uncover what’s important to them and weave that into the organisation’s narrative and actions to suit our own needs.
In my experience, however, we rarely move the needle when trying to understand employee concerns unless first there is trust. Employees need to feel safe talking about what’s holding them back at work without fear of career-limiting consequences. And fair play. Who is willing to say that they’re not wholly inspired by the current leadership to go the extra mile, for example?
It takes open and active listening on both sides. Most importantly, a desire to understand that shifting ground from what you think is ‘right’ doesn’t necessarily weaken anyone’s standing. In fact, the better outcome won’t be clear unless you strip it back to the bare bones, and then start the real dialogue.
Engage a third party to keep you from walking away. It’s takes more time upfront but it’s worth the effort.