The World Economic Forum is Davos is always exciting. While economic and political elites are discussing what should be on the business and government agenda for 2018, the global communications community looks towards the results of the annual Edelman Trust Barometer.
Now in its 18th year, the barometer, which surveyed more than 33,000 adults across 28 countries, showed a big drop in trust. As a professional communicator my main takeaway is the increased trust in CEOs (first year in a long time!) and the decreased trust in “a person like you”. The latter is pretty big news, seeing as peer-to-peer communications had been the most trusted form of communication in recent years. Maybe we have realized we are living too much in echo chambers.
Social media companies have also lost trust, with 70% of respondents agreeing that they do not do enough to prevent unethical behaviors. With more than 30% of those surveyed believing that social media is not good for society it will be interesting where this opinion takes us and if the big tech companies will start to do some rethinking about their responsibilities to society.
It seems business is now expected to be an agent of change. Nearly two-thirds say that they would like CEOs to take the lead on policy change instead of waiting for government. As Edelman says: “There are new expectations of corporate leaders. Nearly 7 in 10 respondents say that building trust is the No. 1 job for CEOs, ahead of high-quality products and services.”
What’s the reality in your company? Have you noticed a decline in peer-to-peer communication? How can we tackle disinformation within companies? And what can communicators do to empower CEOs to become agents of change in today’s society?
Gender doesn’t matter, talent does. And when you know that between 2014 and 2016, only 15% of workers in Germany were engaged at work then it is more than urgent to take a look at the management culture and to not just hire for experience or skills but for the talent to truly work with and inspire people.
The digital revolution has long begun. And many companies are taking the first steps into their digital transformation. Everybody is talking about digital. Topics like big data, automation of processes, robotics, AI dominate the conversation….but many seem to forget that this change is not only about technology. It is foremost about corporate culture, structure and, of course, leadership.
For a company to successfully change its structure and culture, leadership needs to step up to the plate to convince employees why the change is needed and walk them down the path. But here is the sticking point: change is emotionally charged. It can emote fear, insecurity but also acceptance and inspiration. And at the end of the day it is only the individual who will make the decision if s/he wants to change or not.
That is why for companies to evolve and grow in this digital revolution it is imperative that they have leaders that are doers, who can generate enthusiasm in their employees, who embrace change and see it as an opportunity not as a challenge. But unfortunately I still see too many leaders who are blocking change. And because they are the only ones who can truly drive change, it becomes more and more frustrating for those around them who are ready to jump into all the opportunities that the digital revolution has to offer. My recommendation? Weed out managers who prefer to remain in a comfort zone early.
Not a day goes by without most of us not hearing, reading or using the word “transformation”.
And while we may find it easy to transform ourselves, for leaders to manage change can be difficult. Why? Because no one likes change or having to adapt to new situations. I see it every day when working with clients. Too many times we are putting the focus on the magic words of “efficiency” or “effectiveness” or “process optimization”, almost forgetting the special magic word “people”.
By putting people first, organizational change can be much better navigated. After all, it is the people who will be transforming the organization, so as leaders it is your task to enable them to do so – from creating the right motivation to giving them the tools and helping them thrive.
Jim Hemerling, Senior Partner at BCG, in a recent TED talk summed it up nicely in his slide of the five imperatives for transforming organizations with one common theme: putting people first.