An organization’s culture plays a defining role in how employees communicate, make decisions and solve problems. A poorly managed organization—particularly one in which employees are discouraged from raising legitimate concerns—is ripe for PR crises that could adversely impact a company, its employees, customers, investors and other stakeholders.
Here are five classically bad management habits to avoid, courtesy of Deborah Hileman, president and CEO of the Institute for Crisis Management and contributor to PR News' Book of Employee Communications Strategies & Tactics Vol. 5:
- Shooting the messenger: In many organizations, it’s common for members of senior management to blame those who bring issues to their attention. In this culture, people learn quickly to keep their mouths shut if they want to stay out of the line of fire. This kind of fearful silence is toxic to the organization.
- Passing the buck: On his desk in the Oval Office, President Harry Truman had a sign that read: “The buck stops here.” In other words, “I am ultimately responsible.” All too often, though, in a culture where people fail to take responsibility for decisions, crises can smolder for months or years before they erupt. The issue then grows in size, complexity and intensity until it erupts as a full-blown crisis.
- Mixed messages from management: The potential for smoldering crises to escalate intensifies when management routinely sends mixed messages to employees. For example, the company product mantra may be “quality first,” but when employees are directed to cut costs, take shortcuts or circumvent processes in order to meet a short-term financial goal, the quality mantra is undermined.
- Groupthink: The term “groupthink” refers to behaviors in which the desire for unanimity overrides motivation to consider alternative courses of action. Groups may apply peer pressure to those who express strong arguments against a course of action, causing individuals to self-censor their concerns.
- Management by committee: Management by committee drives individuals to avoid taking decisive action out of fear of being blamed for a mistake. In this culture, group members may share the blame, but critical decisions are not made, resulting in crises.
Register now for PR News' March 12, 2015, Crisis Management Workshop at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
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