Creating a stir

2009

The debate rages over Daniel Hannan, the Tory MEP spouting off about the limitations of the British National Health Service to an American TV audience through Fox News. He reportedly said he wouldn't wish the NHS on anyone. Meanwhile, UK Health Secretary Andy Burnham accused him of being unpatriotic for daring to slag off a British national institution in the foreign media.

Was Hannan wrong? It could be argued that as a high profile political figure, his out-spoken depreciatory eye isn't benefiting anyone – except himself. When the economy is on the skids, leaders need to present a unified position, irrespective of their personal views. But then this is politics.

If Hannan were a company representative then the matter would be different. Any organisation would suffer when a member of management decides to make disparaging remarks about perceived operational faults on a media wave joy ride.

The many get hit by the one's big ego boost. "Gee, look at me on TV!" Plus, managers who believe their opinions are being squelched naturally look for other venues to be heard. Hannan chose a very public one.

A common voice is important for an organization's longevity. And here is why:

Discontent runs rampant. Besides a good cup of coffee, not much in this world is perfect. Don't push the rope – pull it by communicating a management posture.

Climb the ladder. Competition for recognition is a bad thing. Organizations must welcome input from all levels of management and not by offering a pat on the back and an insincere, "brilliant". This only fuels a manager to seek other soapboxes.

Perspectives differ. My wife sees filth in the refrigerator, I see cold beer. Getting everyone on the same bus makes it easier to move forward.

Save face. An outburst that proves to be a misunderstanding undermines authority and credibility. It's tough enough managing, don't make it worse.

The message companies can take from his outburst is to maintain strong internal communication channels while offering a cohesive, public voice that says, "We're improving and we will succeed".