Blog posted by Mark from www.reputationstuff.com
Fear stalks the corridors. Professions that were previously considered very safe are now concerned that their days are numbered. Decision-makers are asking very uncomfortable questions about how money is spent and whether they can live without certain strategic services.
Some already are. They are realising that they don’t necessarily need to pay every day for something they might only “need” now and again.
Some areas will go altogether. Budgets in other services will be cut. Many will be expected to take a pay cut. Things are not looking good. Would it were not so.
What’s worse, you don’t always see it coming. A friend who worked in the private sector was helping to downsize the business (a position that secured him some degree of control and influence) when one afternoon he was asked to pop upstairs for a chat. He left the building for the last time in less than an hour later.
But unless you want to lose sleep and live with the possibility that things could go south today, you should develop a survival strategy.
So what do we know?
1. Budgets are under pressure and when cuts need to be made decision-makers will always look for the line of least resistance. It’s easier to protect front line services than those that might be perceived as nice-to-have but not essential.
2. Everybody thinks they can do communication. More and more leaders are comfortable with journalists, are happy to write copy and think they are strategists anyway.
3. Decision-makers will look at organisations that spend less on communication and wonder whether they could manage with less here.
4. But there are always problems. Senior people’s careers hinge on their ability to fix things, often before they go wrong. They don’t have time to fix everything so that creates an opportunity. Come up with fixes.
5. People like to work with people they get on with so investing in relationships is a good use of time. Don’t be a pain – it’s career-limiting.
So how can you survive?
1. Work out what the organisation’s problems are and create solutions before anyone else does. Start with “selling the cuts”. And then move on to “maintaining organisational stability and discretionary effort during seismic cultural change”.
2. Build strategic alliances with key influencers. Start the PAs to your leadership team and fan out from there. Everyone should see you as indispensable and helpful.
3. Identify the other solution providers and help them. Get on their side. Don’t create exchanges with them that could turn into damaging passing remarks. Equally, don’t look fearful. We can detect it at twenty paces.
4. Anticipate the direction of the market: greater scrutiny, greater accountability, more challenge. Think about what communication solutions will be needed.
5. Become versed in programme and change management. Both will matter. The first will be sold as a means of achieving massive savings. The second is essential to take the organisation along. Both will be driven by key people. You need to be in their diary and be seen as someone who can really make things happen.
6. Gather in useful evidence. Subscribe to key useful blogs. Find out what works elsewhere. Use it all.
7. Remember the basics. Whilst the world is changing, there will still be a need for brilliant internal and external communication.
8. Think of the worst and be ready for it. Keep you CV up to date, network with people who could open doors for you and be clear about what your “offer” would be should the worst happen.
9. Add value every day. What you do today could be the first line of your career obituary. Make it count. Only focus on things that help your organisation get closer to its goals.
10. Develop proxy indicators that will tell you how the land lies and how valuable your stock is today.