Building stakeholder confidence

When you look around the world right now there is one commodity in short supply – confidence. 

Forget about investing in gold bullion or iron ore, the one resource that the world really needs right now is positive belief. 

What we are seeing in Europe especially is evidence that ultimately words don’t mean much to human beings unless they are backed by solid action.

The same goes for companies.  Saying you will do something, or be something is easy.  Actually coming good on that promise is a lot harder.  Ultimately though that is what customers and stakeholders judge you by – and that is ultimately what brings confidence.

Confidence doesn’t come from staying silent.  The mistake I see a lot of companies make is to stop communicating during times of stress and uncertainty.  Of course we know for listed companies this is a dilemma – markets don’t like hearing bad news.  But sooner or later you will pay the price, so you may as well say it as it is. 

The same goes for governments – they hate admitting things have gone wrong.  Our adversarial style of politics means you tend to get leapt on by the Opposition hungry to stir up trouble.  But while that’s how it might play out in the media, I think the jury in the Court of Public Opinion is smarter than that.  They like witnesses who speak the truth.  Confidence comes from truthfulness, even if it hurts.  Speaking the truth shows you respect the right of the other person to or group to know what's going on.  Respect builds relationships - that is ultimately what stakeholder communication should be all about.