Interview with Jim McCamy, a 30-year crisis, and emergency management professional provides you perspectives and insights from his experience and to update folks on what is going on in North Alabama. We have been fortunate to have built a successful consulting business in the past 25-years. The crisis communications and planning advice at this site may help you as a small business, or non-profit that is struggling to communicate with your employees and customers. If you find it helpful, please share it through your social media sites. Let’s all, “pay it forward.” http://www.ldarrylarmstrong.com – L. Darryl and Kay Armstrong #UnitedAmerica @DoctorDarryl #Crisiscommunications #Crisisleadership #Crisismanagement
“Recently a client of mine said, “What we need is a strategic plan!” This same client and his colleagues at the time were going through Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team training with me. I held my tongue and eventually quietly said, “You first have to break down silos and work as a team before even thinking about building a strategic plan, if you are going to be successful.” What we often find is, Millennials want to jump in front of the train instead of boarding it for the ride to the station. – Dr. L. Darryl Armstrong
What Baby Boomers and GenXers can learn from Millennials about being “wired?”
Born into the digital world, M-Generation employees are wired for speed and constant connection. Connected to friends, family, and even strangers, they are masters of multitasking for immediate information gathering often bouncing off the walls like a ball bearing shot into a steel plated room.
When technology becomes obsolete, they rid themselves of it immediately for the latest upgrade. The replacement is always the newest, fastest, slimmest and most fashionable.
Even though Boomers and GenXers are technologically savvy, we are awed by the ease with which Millennials navigate the complex and ever-changing digital terrain.
While you and I may “surf” YouTube occasionally, a Millennial will make and post his own movie in an hour and link it to everyone on his LinkedIn account.
Although we marvel at his skills, we also recognize the dark side of such technology and the impact that digital immediacy and constant connectivity can have on our employees and their audiences at large.
As Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, we’re concerned that the Instantaneous, perpetual availability of friends and entertainment means that an M-Generation employee could be slacking off instead of working. We can’t believe it’s possible to be productive and wired-in at the same time.
How she can get any work done with the music playing constantly in her earphones? Has the informality of social media left Millennials unmindful to professional workplace etiquette, appropriate styles of communications, and the boundaries between professional and personal information?
Lancaster and Stillman in the M-Factor book point out our concerns that the continual flow of digital content is eroding the M-generations’ attention spans and impairing their ability to concentrate.
We’re concerned that the Millennials have no criteria for distinguishing what is authoritative information from what is just one blogger’s opinion. Do they even understand that this is an important distinction?
Observing these digital natives, we may overly focus on their devices and the strange behaviors they conjure – heads buried in screens, fingers clicking out texts, and eyes darting around dozens of images per minute. These things, though, are outward expressions of what could be the defining personality of the Millennial generation – the concept of continuous collaboration.
“The M- Factor” predicts that the Millennial generation will be known as the “Great Collaborators”. And this can be a good thing.
For the M-Generation, work is usually a team sport and isolation from friends, family, and coworkers is the worst! Remember the TV-show Friends? The analogy here is most appropriate.
When you see them plugged into their devices, remember that they are probably using that device to connect with someone, to communicate something that matters to them, or to attend to a community of their own making, all of which may be business related.
Reconciling yourself to your M-Generation employee’s constant immersion in the digital world may begin with this recognition. To prevent conflict and crisis from developing, develop a greater appreciation for your wired and constantly plugged in employee so that you can make his weird, wired ways work for you.
Find a project that is a perfect match for his interests and his technical know – how. Let him drive it as fast as he wants. You may pick up a few new tricks and learn something about social media yourself.
This also may result in a teachable moment if his enthusiasm, efficiency, and innovations collide with organizational traditions, protocols, and habits. You can demonstrate how “faster is not always better”.
Finally, it is important to develop the habit of assessing an M-Generation’s work based on what she produces, not by how she spends her time. Between dramatic changes in educational paradigms and the rapid evolution of technology in the past 20 years, your new hire’s ways of being productive may not bear any resemblance to your ways of being productive. The completed project, however, is what matters.
He may spend more time at the coffee shop than at his desk. Based solely on casual observation, you can’t tell whether he is working or playing. You wonder about his work ethic when he outsources tasks and assignments to friends, family, or even large groups of online acquaintances.
As a supervisor, you could insist that he conform to a work style that looks more productive to you. However, a better alternative is to evaluate his performance based on criteria that you can both agree on, namely, well-defined outcomes. In other words, you must negotiate an arrangement that meets both parties’ needs.
Let your M-Generation employee know what needs to be accomplished when, and do this in an upfront, direct, and clear way and ensure they have a well-written and they understand their job description.
Then step back and let him tackle it in his own “unique and wired” way. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Millennials Want Meaning for Their Work – Part 6
Remember what we have learned from the previous articles about the sociological and psychological make-ups of Millennials? Primarily, this generation has certain behavioral traits and expectations that are well ingrained based on their parental and societal upbringing. Their definition of a “sense of satisfaction” can be defined in three specific ways:
- They seek to “make a difference” in the world, as many of us did. However, they will engage with anyone at any level who can or will help them accomplish this outcome. Their social, supervisory and management skills are influenced by their technology rather than day-to-day social interactions. Therefore, they can be lacking in social and interpersonal skills.
- They want to make a “real contribution” to an employer’s mission, vision and strategies. But they need to believe in the organization’s mission, vision and values. To engage them, you (the manager) must clearly articulate and explain your expectations, how you will measure their accomplishments, and clearly state what is not allowed behaviorally;
- They want to be “innovators”, leading their organizations to do things smarter, faster and better than anyone else. And they believe that they are the only ones who can do it.
As Boomers and Xers, “realistic and pragmatic survivors” of the real business world, we have become skeptics and cynics in many regards. We have survived many social, economic, and political situations that the Millennial cannot even conceive of. Although 60% of the future work force will be Millennials, there are still plenty of Boomers and GenXers in management positions who will do the hiring. It behooves us all to figure out how to work together.
On the positive side, Millennials can be:
- True believers in organizations and businesses where they work, if they see opportunities to accomplish “their needs and meet their ambitions”.
- Ambition is good. The flip side of this is that they believe they know much more about their (and often your) field of expertise than you do.
- Desirous of global work experience – they cherish it, but remember that they will often need to be coached and counseled in diplomacy and process.
- Technology savvy. They embrace the available gigabytes of processing power and interconnectivity because it affords channels of technological collaboration.
- They have energy to burn.
As we learn to appreciate what the Millennials can offer, we need to understand that most Millennials will not last much longer than 3-5 years with any organization. They expect to change jobs many times, perhaps 5-10 times, in their lives. Choosing to leave the company for greater challenges and go “where they are appreciated and can fulfill their needs and ambitions” doesn’t mean that they are not valuable during their time with us. Just don’t expect them to be there for the long haul.
The evolved Millennial sees each new job as an opportunity and learning experience in the building blocks of their resume and life.
Some of the insecurity and angst of Boomers and GenXers comes from the fact that many of the M-Generation would take our jobs tomorrow, if offered, because it simply looks like fun. It doesn’t take them long to feel that they have learned all they need to learn in their current position. It’s nothing personal; it’s just the way they think.
Grunt work, teamwork, and collaboration with other generations are interesting to them only if they can do so technologically. So utilize this to the fullest degree.
We are not saying that it will be easy for us Boomers and GenXers to work with Millennials. Yet it can be accomplished…with members of the M-Generation who are open to mentoring, coaching and counseling by the “old gray hairs.”
If we can tap into the fact that The Millennials truly want to “make a difference” by tackling big issues within our organizations such as poverty, environmental cleanup, best practices in management, or environmental sustainability, we can gain their respect and better utilize their talents.
Innovation, especially in the areas of digital communication and technology, is what they seek. This is where they shine. We need to acknowledge and appreciate this while also making sure that they allow us to guide them in understanding social and management style differences. Getting along with each other and respecting our different generational styles can only help us all achieve what we want to achieve. Let them have free rein in innovating to a certain point, but make it very clear that “they” must respect (as “we” will) social and management style differences so that we can all just “get along” for the greater good. They will need coaching and mentoring in face-to-face social skills and we owe it to them to help them develop in this area.
There are several things that we can do to satisfy the particular kind of meaning that Millennials wants to feel in their work.
First, Millennials want to be heard.
Like it or not, Millennials have ideas and opinions about the organization from day one. They want their ideas about the mission, the work, and the way to get things done to be taken seriously.
The traditional response in many organizations, “This is just the way it is done around here” simply opens the door to them to give you their alternatives, opinions, ideas, and suggestions in an unproductive way.
I recommend you be prepared to capture their ideas and suggestions, because you might just learn something from their insight that benefits everyone and improves your project.
The need to be heard is not unique to just this generation.
Everyone wants to be heard and taken seriously. What makes Millennials different from other generations is that they want to be heard from day one before they have earned the privilege in the eyes of their older colleagues. We waited… until we had gained experience, or understood the project, or had the gravitas to deal with the political, community, management or organizational implications of the situation…before we expected to be heard.
The good news is that research shows they are less concerned about whether their ideas are accepted or not. They simply want the opportunity to speak.
We recommend that you make it a consistent behavior to ask your M-Generation new hire what she thinks about an idea or an issue under discussion. Remember you are under no obligation to act on her ideas or comments. However, listen enough and closely, and you actually may hear something insightful and valuable and worthy of integration.
The new hire will feel fully engaged simply because you asked for her input. And who amongst us doesn’t appreciate being asked?
Millennials also want to hear from you, and they want it immediately – not in annual service reviews.
These folks need and want more feedback about their work so that they know they are making positive contributions. We all feel this way regardless of our generation; however, Millennials want immediate, as in “right now”, feedback not just annually but daily in some cases. This will be tiring and even exhausting yet this is what our research shows.
Those of us in the older generations are generally content with feedback through structured reviews with supervisors periodically throughout the year. For Millennials, though, feedback based on clearly defined and explained expectations should follow closely on particular projects or accomplishments. If you think about it, this makes a certain amount of sense.
So, “chill”, all you Boomers and Xers, you don’t have to follow these new hires around all day, reviewing every little task they complete. Rather, integrate and adopt the consistent behavior of offering the Millennial brief evaluative comments in the midst of his work and pointing out how his efforts relate to the larger mission and vision.
Another thing to remember is that Millennials want to express themselves through their work and will do so often very creatively.
Boomers and Xers have placed greater emphasis on accomplishment as the primary means of self-expression. For Millennials, how they do their work is just as expressive as what they accomplish.
Expect to hear them say “what an awesome” job they have done because they believe their accomplishments are “awesome”.
The authors of The M-Factor note this is a generation with an intuitive sense of “personal branding.” Sure, everyone has an iPhone they say, but no one has an iPhone case just like mine.
Being unique and being noticed are powerful motivators for Millennials. One way to do this is to give them room to put their own creative stamp on their work, whether it is the décor of their workspace or the design of a newsletter.
Another way is to let them own something, a project or responsibility, which is fully in their control and means a great deal to them. Proceed very cautiously and allow them opportunity to grow one small project at a time.
In conclusion, we have examined Millennials and their expectations about the workplace from several different viewpoints:
- Their relationship with their parents;
- Their sense of entitlement;
- Their need for speed and connectivity to the wired world;
- And their desire for meaning of their work and life.
For each of these areas, we have offered insight and ideas for “negotiating” through the challenges and taking advantage of the opportunities we will face in working with The M-Generation.
To be most effective at this interaction, and to supervise them, we must work smarter by understanding the unique and different behaviors and traits that are relatively fixed and permanent in this generation.
Don’t waste your time or their time asking how to change them. Accept their strengths and weaknesses for what they are. Realistically consider what behaviors you choose to challenge and what behaviors you will accommodate, and then make it absolutely clear what your expectations are. Be prepared to negotiate with them.
It’s important to define sensible, well-articulated, and mutually understood boundaries, standards and expectations for these new hires to live up to and abide by.
However, it’s equally important to learn how to adapt to what they want and need, if they are to be productive in the workplace.
Once you negotiate a balance between challenge and accommodation, you must then negotiate with the Millennials to focus on releasing the exceptional gifts and talents that the generation can bring to the work place.
Most importantly, as the authors of The M-Factor summarize in their practical wisdom:
- Keep learning.
- Stay resilient and flexible.
- Maintain a sense of humor.
- Find a way to center yourself and remain calm.
This generation will bring unique talents to the work place. Find the time and patience to utilize them.
They may have dozens of ways to interview and hire, solve the same problem in five different ways in various divisions, and simply spend a lot of time and energy needlessly identifying and solving the same problems repeatedly in many different ways.
Those companies who do standardize their leadership processes and training create a path forward map to help every leader in the company to be successful. In simple terms: Develop your road map and follow it, or as I tell clients who seek strategic planning assistance from me, “Write your plan based on best practices and work your plan.”
Why don’t companies do this?
Research shows that many companies don’t have a unified leadership process in place because:
- The leaders don’t have the training they need to succeed.
- There is no objective accountability system.
- The “dots are not connected” for employees in respect to purpose, worthwhile work and making a difference.
- The companies are not using a sequenced mapped approach.
- There is no process for managing high- and middle-level managers.
- There is no process in place to address the problems with low performers.
To determine if your company needs to standardize your leadership system, Quint Studer in his book, “Results That Last,” suggests we ask ourselves such questions as:
- How many different ways do we have to interview a candidate?
- How do we know that when our leaders have left a meeting we have accurately and completely conveyed the messages we want them to carry back to the employees?
- When employees are asked tough questions, how do we know they are not giving us just the answers they think we want to hear?
- How do we measure the performance of our employees in such a way as we can determine they are low, middle or high-level performers?
- What process do we have in place to assess the performance of employees and their accountability against the overall organizational goals?
Six ways to improve our leadership programs
Leadership programs can be standardized and improved.
When we standardize our programs, we provide a path forward map for all our leadership, which saves time and money and makes organizations more successful.
How do we do this?
1. Use a common agenda. While Studer recommends that all agendas be organized around his “Five Pillars of Excellence,” (People, service, quality, finance and growth) even more important is that for every meeting there is a standardized agenda used by all leaders in the organization. By using such an approach, we can align all staff to our organizational goals, which then allows us to help them connect to the organization’s vision and mission. This approach also gives us the means to communicate to our team the critical success factors within the organization and in their individual work areas.
2. Align your evaluation process to Studer’s five pillars or the organization’s critical success factors. When developing goals for our organization, they must be objective, measurable, meaningful and aligned with the organization’s pillars or critical success factors. They must also be focused on results.
3. Provide consistent packets of information. When leaders leave meetings, they should have a prepared packet of information they can share with their employees so that everyone hears the same messages. Studer notes that many companies use “Flip and Tell” books to package the information.
4. Choose a single method of interviewing and hiring employees. All applicants should be asked the same three or four behavioral-based questions no matter what job they are applying for in the organization. It would be prudent to choose questions geared toward values and ownership.
5. Collect tough questions from leaders. Every leader should be asked on a regular basis to share with the team the tough questions they hear from their staff. Then work with your leaders to develop a consistent set of answers that will be used by all leaders. This develops a consistent message that can be communicated by everyone. Consistency builds confidence and provides employees evidence that the leaders have the information needed to answer their questions.
6. Make sure your leaders are trained in basic competencies to perform. Many leaders are not comfortable delivering messages without appropriate training.
Those companies who annually train their leaders in such competencies as meeting facilitation, negotiations, conflict prevent and resolution and presentations skills are more successful because they are providing the essential training all leaders need.
Research shows that repetition is essential to build integrity and credibility within an organization. Great leaders never tire of repetition. When leaders become better at using their skills, they become more efficient and effective at doing it. They will get better with practice.
Organizations that use this six step approach have longer lasting results, improved organizational efficiencies and greater innovation.Key points to remember:
- Stop the variances. When an organization has variance in its leadership approach it produces inconsistencies within the organization making it more difficult to achieve excellence. Alignment among the managers and employees improves performance and enhances customer and employee satisfaction.
- Standardize behavior. Leadership behavior is challenging to quantify and many organizations find it a challenge to standardize behavior. Many organizations fear that by doing so they will intrude on the leader’s autonomy and creativity. However, organizational goals come down from the top and include clear visions and missions. Any single leader’s independence is less important than the organization’s mission.
- Eliminate barriers. Barriers that can get in the way of standardizing leadership behavior include: Lack of critical mass; lack of a balanced approach; insufficient training; no objective accountability; no path forward map which connects the dots; no process in place to manage middle and high level performers; no system to address quickly and efficiently low performers; an inability or unwillingness to standardize best practices across the organization. These barriers must be systematically eliminated.n Identify and eliminate inconsistent practices.
Carefully scrutinize all your practices in interviewing systems, messaging to employees, leader responses to crises, varying leadership performances and ineffective leadership evaluations.
Every organization should strive to create a self-sustaining culture with energy and vision to achieve excellence, Studer says. This can be accomplished by renovating your leadership evaluation system, applying key leadership behaviors, which will inspire self-motivation (the most powerful motivator of all), and developing standardized processes which will hardwire excellence into your organization.
Sources: “Results That Last” by Quint Studer
L. Darryl ARMSTRONG and Associates LLC is privileged to be associated with Nusura, Inc., a specialized emergency management firm that creates technological innovations like SimulationDeck and Activation Analytics and backs them with nationally recognized subject matter experts in crisis management planning, training and exercises. The Nusura team includes the industry’s top tech development team and the most experienced crisis communications practitioners in the nation. The Nusura team also has extensive transportation expertise and are the nation’s leading firm on planning for people with access and functional needs.
We invite you to visit the Nusura, Inc website to see the latest in technologically advanced crisis and emergency planning platforms to assist in your training and exercises.
We would be pleased to arrange a no cost demonstration for your organization. Call me personally at 270.619.3803 or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Detective Frank Hunt has a distinguished 30-year career with the 110th precinct in New York City. He has seen most all of it when it comes to crime and crime scenes. And although he has been honored for numerous contributions that he has made to the department, perhaps he is best known for being an experienced and highly successful negotiator.
I had the privilege a few years ago to speak at the Coldwell Bankers Real Estate annual awards breakfast in Owensboro and my topic was, if you choose, how you too can learn to be a better negotiator during times of a crisis or not. After all sales personnel all need to understand the art and science of negotiations to be as successful as possible.
I first observed the power of a good negotiator when I watched my grandfather trade mules back in the 1950s. By the 1970s, I was negotiating my way through a government agency and then for the past 25 years I have taught these skills to managers, labor representatives, sales, law enforcement and military personnel.
Frank Hunt and I agree on many points that we have learned in our 40 plus-year careers.
To be a good negotiator, you must get and keep “rapport” with the other person. Rapport is a French word that means you have developed a relationship of mutual trust or, like-mindedness, fellowship, comradeship, camaraderie, sympathy.
Hunt says that under all circumstances you must be “relentless” in trying to develop rapport. The development of rapport is not always easy and yet even when we get it we also can lose it fairly quickly. We know we have rapport when the “feeling” of the moment is “right”. We lose rapport when we are not paying attention to what we are doing to keep the other party engaged.
Effective negotiators “get up close and personal” with the other party, Hunt says. And I would add that it is always the “one-on-one” that makes the most successful relationships during negotiations.
As a hostage negotiator Hunt says, you must “deal with the situations as they happen” and show the other person involved that you too are a “real person” that cares about the outcome of the experience.
My own experience has demonstrated over the years that if you negotiate for purely selfish reasons and don’t find a mutually successful outcome such discussions usually fail on all fronts. During a crisis, I can assure you that the other party involved can quickly distinguish a skilled manipulator over an experienced negotiator.
“You also must place your ego to the side,” Hunt admonishes. And experience has shown both of us that when you can’t do that you simply can’t be effective.
“I believe that to be most effective you must be able to show the other party that you are willing to cross the line with them,” Hunt notes.
Roger Dawson, author of the The Secrets of Power Negotiators, points out that irrespective of how much you study or what you do that the best teacher is “experience”.
Of course, that would not be the case with hostage negotiations yet most of us have tried now and then to develop our skills by actually practicing them. Think about it. Ever bought a car and made a different offer than the “asking price”? You opened the door for negotiations but did you walk through it?
Some basic tips to follow if you decide to engage in negotiations:
- Go into the situation thinking and acting positive
- Be aware that if you think negative, you will come out with a negative outcome
- Remind the other party that they are not alone – it is you and them working together for a mutually satisfactory outcome
- Propose often by using language such as “Why don’t we try this …”
- Remind the other party frequently “We will work this out”
- Remember negotiations require time – time is on your side
- Create a ‘win’ of some kind for both sides
- Deal with the moment and get personal when you can
- Pull them out of the situation psychologically not physically
- Keep the playing field level whenever possible
- Let the other person tell you how to best deal with their complaint or issue
- Keep asking for their advice and help
- Help the other person to make decision along with you
- Be a good listener and repeat now and then exact words back so the other party feels honored by your listening skills
- Be sensitive to all situations – what might not be important to you may be to the other party
- Project and instill confidence in your discussion
Finally, with all due respect some people simply can’t be good negotiators. That is a fact of life. Those people should proceed to develop other skills they may possess.
And remember, as Hunt is apt to share, “If you only have a hammer in your tool box then every problem has to be a nail.”
Develop as many of your negotiating skills and talents as possible and use them to develop a wealth of experience to be successful. Finally, the time to develop and practice these skills is not during the times of a crisis. Plan, prepare and train in advance to survive.
Land Between The Lakes
To Those Interested:
Sadly, it is once again time to have our elected officials at the local, state and federal level step to the plate and stop the US Forest Service at Land Between The Lakes from making a mockery of the commitments made to the former residents, users, visitors and taxpayers.
The most recent petition drive to stop the clear-cutting and burning at this 170,000 national outdoor recreation, education and resource management area is the latest eruption in the ongoing battle to get a federal agency back in line to serve its constituency.
Everyone should understand that the USFS actions directly impacts the local tourism economy of western Kentucky and ultimately the Commonwealth’ s economy, so I am sure the Governor and Kentucky State legislators are already in touch with the locally elected officials to stop these actions. If not, now is the time for them to step up and speak out.
I commend the work of Lyon Judge Wade White and Trigg County Judge Hollis White, and Professor David Nickell and others who have committed to engaging in openness and transparency to inform and educate those with an interest in LBL – this is something that too many local, state and federal governments only say they will do.
They are effectively using social and traditional media to push their opposition on the USFS actions out to the people that count – the former residents, the taxpayers, the users and the visitors to this national treasure. They must keep up the openness and transparency and continue to inform, educate and collaborate with those they serve and insist that the federal managers come to the table to resolve this crisis that the USFS created.
Any well-read or TV-versed person knows that the Obama administration has demonstrated they are “big on hat, short on cattle” when it comes to openness and transparency and, therefore, it seems the US Forest Service can be the same. Well, USFS you are wrong! You have been called out.
I am not surprised that Land Between The Lakes talking head Jan Bush says U.S. Forestry officials don’t plan to attend the February 26th public meeting, but they look forward to the dialogue that follows. I have to ask, how will you know what that dialogue is Ms. Bush if you don’t attend?
Knowing how the federal government works, after spending almost two decades trying to make it an open and transparent government that sought out public opinion and dialogue before making decisions that impacted its customers, all I can say is “I am sure the USFS management and employees are waiting with baited breathe over at LBL to hear the outcome of this meeting.”
According to local media sources, Wade White of Lyon County and Hollis Alexander of Trigg County are encouraging community members to voice concerns at a public meeting they’re planning for February 26th in Grand Rivers. White says logging and burning ongoing in the northern portion of LBL makes the landscape look devastated.
“If we truly are a recreational area like what was promised back in the 60s, to draw in people so it helps our economies all around, that’s not happening,” said White. “That’s not going to happen if it becomes a tree farm.”
White has been publicly critical of logging and burning operations in LBL both on his and Lyon County’s Facebook page. He’s raising funds to bolster his efforts with a media campaign, says the tax funded National Public Radio website WKMS at Murray State University.
Judge White I strongly urge you to sit down with the all the tourism commissions in the area and voice your concern. Kentucky Western Waterlands, Inc. should be speaking up on behalf of the regional tourism businesses.
Also, Judge White and Alexander please contact the Southeast Outdoor Press Association (http://seopa.org); The Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Association (http://aglowinfo.org); The National Outdoor Writers Association (http://owaa.org); the Tennessee and Kentucky Press associations and outdoor writer association and such imminent and respected outdoor writers as Wade Bourne (http://www.wadebourneoutdoors.com/ ) in Clarksville, Tenn.; Steve Vantress in Paducah, and Bill Evans, Vice President of Operations and News at WPSD-TV and let them know of this egregious issue and the opposition and give them interviews, fact sheets, photographs and video. Take this story to the world and I assure you these people will respond.
We support Judge White and Judge Alexander; however, just as we saw with the US Corps of Engineers attempts to recently ram down a new policy about fishing below Barkley Dam without public input and consideration these judges will have to have the total support of Congressman Whitfield and Senators McConnell and Paul to stop this outrageous activity. Now, is the time to insist that the state and federal representatives publicly speak up and demonstrate their support of your viewpoints.
This time federal legislation must be designed to also include a provision that stops such excessive forestry practices and ensures that all roads to all cemeteries in LBL will be maintained and remain open at all times. The legislation should focus any agency that runs this project on operation and maintenance of existing facilities, confine them to the facilities they currently have with no more commercialization expansion and insist that they are at all times engaged with the public seeking input, comment and collaborative decision-making.
Make no mistake to stop this action will require federal legislation, supported by the state of Kentucky and Tennessee and the local and state elected officials.
As concerned citizens and taxpayers, call and write your federally elected officials, your Governor and state legislators and insist they attend this meeting. Ask them the federally elected representatives to intervene legislatively and insist while they are at it that they insist the USFS demonstrate enough courage to come to these meetings and hear the public’s views, issues, concerns and dialogue.
It is time that government at all levels actively seek out and engage those who pay their salaries and fund their budgets — the taxpayers. In fact, that time is long overdue!
Finally, drive over to LBL and see this situation for yourselves. Call Judge White and Alexander and talk to them and express your opinions, attend this meeting on February 26th in Grand Rivers; call WPSD-TV, the Paducah Sun and your local newspapers and insist they attend.
Use your own personal social media sites to get your messages and opinions out there, whatever they might be and insist that the USFS become open and transparent.
Finally, Judge White and Alexander file Freedom of Information Acts requesting all documents dealing with this and all management issues of concern and if it is found that someone sitting in the southwestern United States wrote this management plan reveal that fact to the public.
Go to these sites to learn more and attend these meetings to voice your opinions, your outrage and or your concern:
Do you want to become a respected crisis manager? If so, keep reading.
By Dr. L. Darryl Armstrong APR CCMC CAMT
In 1973 on my second week at work, I had to manage an alleged “kidnapping” crisis. News stations from as far away as Nashville and Evansville convened on the front-steps of the trailer where my office was. For more than 8-hours, we were the center of regional attention by every news media organization in a 100-mile radius, and, of course, by our community and our customers. Newspaper, radio and television stations were camped out waiting for my every word. That may sound exciting, but believe me it was not.
My employer and I survived that crisis and learned from it. The experience that I gained shaped the way that I have handled a crisis situation ever since. At that time, I worked for a large federal agency: today my firm works with small businesses, large corporations, universities and government agencies. Our job is to ensure that they have adequate plans to handle any crisis in advance. In order to do this, they must have trained and respected crisis managers within the organization.
It seems as if it were only yesterday that we were all engaged in learning how to deal with a 24-hour news cycle. Today, it makes no difference if you are a “Mom and Pop” convenience store or a Fortune 50 company. When a crisis occurs, you become the focus of the news and social media, and of your employees, customers and the community. You become a 24-hour news story. How you handle a crisis makes the difference in whether you resume work and prosper, or ultimately are perceived negatively in the public’s opinion. Being perceived negatively is not a good thing and can lead to litigation or even bankruptcy.
With the onset of citizen journalists, social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube, the proliferation of blogs and smartphones, innuendoes, gaffes and just out and out blunders can achieve viral status in minutes. Don’t believe me? Just ask Vice President Joe Biden!!! Remember when he said, “This is a f#@%ing big deal” in describing Obamacare?
Protecting your brand and reputation in a global environment requires a multifaceted strategic plan of action that starts within the organization and is executed before brand/reputation damaging occurs.
The proverbial “seat at the table”
How many of us who have worked in management have wanted, and often fought for, that “proverbial seat at the management table?” Having to fight for a seat as a crisis manager may seem ironic these days since all polls show that that the public wants executives, managers, and especially government officials to be more transparent and more engaged. The public expects officials to have communication and crisis management skills, and they want them to actively seek communications and crisis management counsel.
Although most recently the President has said that “…there is not a smidgen of scandal…” in his administration, the polls show that his own behavior has not served him well as a crisis manager.
President Barack Obama and his administration would be wise to follow the advice and counsel of one of his often mentioned heroes, President Abraham Lincoln. “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”
I have always counseled that when you make a mistake and you know you have, simply own up to it; be contrite and humble, apologize, and be very clear that you are doing so.
Then immediately commit to fixing that mistake. The public, be they the American people or your customers or clients, will respect you for such behavior and will most likely be more forgiving.
A study that the public relations firm SpencerStuart and Weber-Shandwick conducted in 2010 found that “whether management says so or not, when a crisis occurs, management is expecting corporate communications crisis managers to be proactive internally, to coordinate key stakeholders, and to develop and implement a communications plan.”
In the more progressive organizations, crisis managers within the communications group have begun to rise in the ranks to executive positions. Some companies even have their own Corporate Communications Officer (CCO). These communication executives, who often serve as the organization’s crisis managers, must understand the business and its financial operations. They must serve as confidants, coaches and cheerleaders.
As Renee T. Walker, an Accredited Public Relations (APR) professional says in The Strategist Summer 2012, “…being adept at each of these roles can help crisis managers manage the often competing agendas of the executive team.”
No, mam it is not just about the facts
Just because we may have the “facts” as best we know them during a crisis, and we can manage the media to some degree, it does not mean we have the management or the public’s support. Knowing the “facts” also does not necessarily demonstrate transparency or promote integrity and social responsibility. We might have a “seat at the table” as far as the public and management is concerned; however, we have yet “to win their trust.”
It is one thing to say, as the current Presidential administration has said for more than 6-years, that “we are the most open and transparent administration ever”. It is another thing entirely to actually exhibit the behaviors that back up the rhetoric.
The public will expect you to “walk your talk.” This is where a veteran and experienced crisis manager and communicator within the organization becomes exceptionally valuable. Such veterans understand the importance of navigating their way through the “court of public opinion”, while staying out of the “court of law.” By doing this, they protect their organization’s reputation/brand while managing potential litigation.
As one of my colleagues who is currently the Director of Public Relations at one of the nation’s largest utility once said, “…this requires a delicate balance and the ability to work with a legal team as well as the communications team.” Such an experienced crisis manager/communicator is greatly coveted for their knowledge and experience. This knowledge and experience will enable them to address the potential impacts on revenue, stock value, reputation, competition, market share, and executive compensation.
When in doubt, go on the offense
Invariably, when a threat is perceived or an attack on the organization occurs, our organizations and their executive leadership either want to stand and fight (we will sue the bastards) or run away from the situation.
In behavioral psychology, we simply refer to this as the “fight or flight” response, the throwback behavior to our early days as cavemen. We see this all the time. Our organizations either “ignore the issue,” hoping it will go away, or aggressively attack the accuser to deflect the issue. Resorting to the time honored and terribly ineffective “no comment” invariably makes the organization appear guilty as charged!
Failing to feed the media the information or ignoring the situation by not commenting just increases the public’s interest and objections. All of these responses ultimately result in heightening the negative reputation/brand and in preventing the organization’s voice from being heard in the media and marketplace.
Sadly, many of our friends who are lawyers don’t understand that it is important to “manage the court of public opinion”, even if the organization is likely to end up in the “court of law.” When you don’t manager the court of public opinion, you can and often do lose in the court of law! I have often advised my clients to “do the right thing” because when the public sees you trying to do so, they will be more understanding and lenient in their judgment.
Ms. Walker says that a well-planned and well-executed offense enables the organization to insulate its reputation/brand. This offense will support its future litigation strategy, demonstrate its values, and show compassion and empathy along with integrity in the media as well as in the court of public opinion.
Remember that “kidnapping” that I handled in 1973?
My organization came out of the media spectacle and the crisis with the respect of the public because we immediately stepped to the plate with a thoughtfully tailored offense:
- We reassured the public that, “we were cooperating with all the law enforcement agencies to ensure the incident was resolved as quickly as possible.”
- The safety of the victim, the alleged kidnappers, our customers and employees were of paramount importance to us and would not be compromised.
- We understood and empathized with the parents of the victim and assured them we would reunite them as soon as possible “once the situation was under control.”
- We assured the media that “we would be open and transparent and forthcoming with verifiable information as soon as we could”, and we asked them to not speculate or use information other than that provided by us since it could place the victim and the investigation in jeopardy. They did honor this request by the way because we “walked our talk.”
- We updated the media (and therefore the public) every 60-minutes, even if we had no further details.
“The Art of War”
‘Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought,” said Sun Tzu author of The Art of War. Organizations with a well thought out and executed internal/ external plan of action, as well as a communications protocol for a crisis situation, will ultimately successfully manage the crisis. However, just having a plan is not enough. You must develop a mutual trust with the executives and leadership before you can successfully, as the crisis manager and communicator, direct the response of the organization during the crisis.
Tenet – something accepted as important truth: an established fundamental belief.
There are seven basic tenets that a crisis manager and communicator must follow in order to help an organization successfully survive a crisis:
- You must become “a coveted advisor.” A coveted advisor understands the organization from many different perspectives. He or she must understand the culture and strategic alliances within human resources, the legal team, operations, supply, transportation, and others. Only then will he be able to ensure that they can help management navigate their way to the end of a crisis. A coveted advisor provides good counsel before, during and after the crisis and has developed sufficient rapport and respect to “speak the truth even when it hurts.”
- You must know those people who can “influence the situation.” Within any organization there are those people who can exert significant influence during a crisis due to their title, their position, their skills of persuasion or simply because they are “natural born leaders.” To be a successful crisis manager, you must know who these people are, how they operate and what motivates them.
- 3. You must build “strategic alliances.” You need to know the more influential people within the organization, and you must also build mutual trust, respect and relationships with them. A strong support system and informational, intelligence gathering network is essential to be successful in handling a crisis.
- 4. You must become “partners with your legal team.” A strong, respectful and supportive relationship between the communications and legal team can literally be a game changer when building strategy during a crisis.
- 5. You must “understand the rules of engagement.” Before engaging in the management of a crisis, you must understand how and who within an organization makes the decisions. Who shares information? Who secrets information? What is the reward and penalty system for each? What are the organization’s values? Once you understand these rules, you stand a better chance of successfully managing the crisis.
- 6. You must implement a “positive and affirmative response strategy.” The going always gets rough with emotions running high during a crisis. The exceptional crisis manager will always maintain composure and objectivity, make careful decisions, and always consider the short and long term implications of those decisions. Managing that always-delicate balance between the legal and communications teams is also imperative. It is always important to help your executives understand what the media is doing, what the media’s needs are, and what the “media speak” is really all about, in terms they can understand.
- 7. You must ensure that “expectations are realistic and aligned with outcomes.” Crises are challenging. The expectations of your management must be realistic and based on the circumstances of the crisis. Those expectations must be directly aligned with the organization’s strategic priorities, basic tenets, values and philosophies.
Ms. Walker notes that often the right response in a crisis will seem counterintuitive to the leadership team. However, if you have become a coveted and respected crisis manager, you will have come to know and understand the influencers within the organization, and you will have built strategic alliances with them. Then and only then will the leadership team heed your advice and counsel.
To paraphrase President Abraham Lincoln, during a crisis is not the time to try and fool any of the people.
Sources: www.ldarrylarmstrong.com; The Strategist Summer 2012
Dr. L. Darryl Armstrong is a crisis and emergency communications and management consultant. He can be reached at email@example.com or 1.888.340.2006. Dr. Armstrong is available for speaking engagements and conducts training workshops. Visit his website at www.ldarrylarmstrong.com where you can find even more free resources including the FREE white paper The 11 Steps in Crisis Communications.