2012 – The year of collaboration & achieving more with less.

So, the forecasters are all promising more economic turmoil ahead. No surprise there. But there is some blue sky set against an otherwise dark horizon, especially if you’re one of the brand trilogy of Communication, HR and Marketing .

Since the bubble really burst back in 08 one of the positives we’ve seen is an increase in the levels of collaborative communication within organisations – the brand trilogy working together to do more with less. And this isn’t something sector-specific, it’s the product of enlightened leadership thinking.

In a world of doom, gloom and negativity it is tempting to think that burying the corporate head in the sand while the storm clears might be a viable strategy. But the days of blissful ignorance are long past. The relentless buffeting barrage of statistics prove that , amongst other things, this results in “low engagement and employee performance  now the second most common business challenge cited with one-third of employees looking to leave compared to 19% two years ago.” There are few factors more damaging to your brand than discontented employees, trapped by financial circumstances, very slowly undermining customer perceptions with millions of seemingly trivial expressions of their malcontent.

Despite the obvious fact that organisations are continuing to fail to motivate and engage employees, we are seeing select role models bucking the trend, and as with the last downturn, fully expect that the strongest will thrive. In the darkest times, as Jim Collins eloquently put it, the best managers “look in the mirror not out of the window” ; they also communicate generously; talents are pooled, budgets are shared and more is achieved with less.

Rather than view culture development as a luxury; increasingly enlightened brand managers and senior leaders will recognise the power of creating truly engaging brands where the silos and barriers come down, employees become increasingly intolerant of duplicity and people work to sustain a way of working that will embrace the new reality of true sustainability and social responsibility. These aren’t buzz words for the good times.

Visionary Communication, HR and Marketing functional heads will increasingly re-evaluate their respective skill sets and come together to create a new order and style of engagement: ‘collaborative communication’. No more SOS comms (Send out Stuff), no more ‘parent/child’ or ‘top down’ driven corporate speak. We’ve already helped a select number of forward thinking leaders head the collaborative charge and combine traditional brand and marketing thinking with behavioural and culture development best practices to buck the negative cycle. It’s hard work, but the results speak for themselves.

We’re increasingly, albeit not as rapidly as anyone would like, witnessing a democratised style of ‘everyone to everyone’ communication, combining strong leadership with powerful corporate feedback mechanisms and individual/personal mentoring. This will allow people to grow and learn through ‘pull driven communication’ and a leadership style of support and encouragement not instruction and dictat.

Recognise any of this where you work?

Well, with any collaboration someone has to make the first move. And those pessimistic commercial weather forecasters aren’t going to go away……