With apologies for a slightly introverted blog, I wanted to raise an interesting issue which has been raised by three people this week who’ve somehow stumbled upon this random collection of thoughts and ideas in the last week. It appears that what people like most about this blog is the candour and openness of the commentary.
Why is it so difficult these days to give an honest opinion without fear of damaging ones’ career? A friend of mine recently told me of a comment he’d made to the press prior to joining a large, global corporation and his thought process going along the lines of not being able to do this once he was employed. I’ve no doubt he’s correct but it seems utterly ridiculous to me that an expert, who understands his market thoroughly, should somehow be concerned about creating ‘waves’ for his new employer, when what he’s been employed to do is to give expert opinion to clients and other external parties…that is in fact his value!
Now many of you might say how naïve of me to raise this. After all, it’s not the comment or the opinion that’s the problem, it is the potential for it to be used in the wrong context which causes the issue and once it’s out in the market, there is no way of controlling what happens. It is this fear, largely led by internal functions whose role it is to mitigate risk, which, ‘in my opinion’, leads to the sort of anodyne, coma inducing commentary which seems to be part of modern corporate speak where the process of understanding what was actually said requires psychic powers.
Tim Huddart, a good friend and client of mine from some time ago, runs a business in the UK (www.h2glenfern.com) which is focused on helping publicly owned organisations deliver messages to the market which are clear, articulate and insightful. The research which he has done suggests that the ability to do this has a positive impact on market perception and potential valuation. As ex head of equity research for Merrill Lynch, he has a unique perspective on this issue.
At a time when employee engagement is potentially at an all time low (Gallops poll of 2012), surely one of the biggest factors has to be a lack of clarity around direction, values and leadership, all of which is epitomised by an approach to communication where ‘saying’ nothing is seen as a positive!