Please respond to both the discussion responses below separately. Please use in-text citation and include a reference list. I have included the initial discussion question for your reference. Initial Discussion Question: Tackling a Crisis Head-on This week, we will be starting our work on Assignment 2. Go to The Wall Street Journal menu item and find an article about a crisis that occurred at a specific organization in the last year. Your company could be in the transportation, healthcare, retail, sports and entertainment, or nonprofit sectors. Considering the course materials for this week, answer the following: Describe the crisis faced by the organization. What communication tactics did the organization use to address its crisis? Refer to both Jack and Warren’s guidance for dealing with crises. To what extent, if any, was the organization’s crisis communication plan effective? If you were a senior leader in the organization, would you have responded differently? Why or why not? Response 1 Elena Baryshevskaya https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-tech-company-tried-… A Tech Company Tried to Limit What Employees Talk About at Work. It Didn’t Go Well. Background In sprint 2021, Basecamp, following Coinbase, announced that they would ban political discussions at work. In this analysis, I will focus on how the company’s leaders dealt with the crisis and consequences of this decision. On April 26, Jason Fried, Basecamp’s chief executive, outlined a new company’s philosophy in a controversial blog post that prohibited, among other things, “societal and political discussions” on internal forums (Fried, 2). Company co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson added in the next post published on the same day that if someone makes a mistake, this is not a “zero-tolerance” and “max-consequences” new policy (Hansson, 3). They expected that people within the company would gently remind each other of the etiquette and move on (Hansson, 3). At the same time, both Jason and David noted that they encourage everyone to exercise their rights and keep political engagement outside of work, pointing out that everyone can use “Signal, Whatsapp, or even a personal Basecamp account, but it can’t happen where the work happens anymore” (Fried, 2; Hansson, 3). They explained why they had decided to stop such conversations at work proximity. They paid attention to the current “choppy” state of the social and political environment. And mentioned that every discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy, or society at large is very sensitive and “quickly spins away from pleasant” (Fried, 2). Fried correctly noted that people around you might say that you support the case if you stay out of it and do not express your opinion and if “wading into it means you’re a target” (2). These became a major distraction at work by taking energy and redirecting dialogs toward “dark places” — “It’s not healthy, it hasn’t served us well” (Fried, 2). A few more changes include a 10% profit-sharing plan that employees could spend on “whatever they’d like, privately, without company involvement or judgment” instead of a focused fitness benefit, a wellness allowance, and education. Another change was that there will be no more 360 reviews that are mostly positive and reassuring, “which is fun to read but not very useful” (Fried, 2). It is essential to understand what events led to these decisions. In 2019 Jane Yang, an Asian-American, joined the company as a Data Analyst (Fried, 4). She initiated a DE&I Council (The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), and more than a third of the company — 20 out of roughly 58 employees — joined this initiative (Uhereczky, 5). They began analyzing hiring processes, vendors, their social life in the company, and speakers they invite. They looked differently at the open list that some Basecamp employees maintained with customer names that sounded “funny” to them but were inappropriate when looking at it from a diversity and inclusion perspective (Newton, 6). And employees wanted to talk about it. Crisis After a few days, when Freid announced the company’s new policies, about one-third of Basecamp employees accepted buyouts and left the company (Newton, 7). At the same time, other people in the company supported the initiative, and one said that Basecamp is “another mission-focused company; it takes courage in these times” (Armstrong, 9). This overview does not include all the little details essential to make solid conclusions, but it has enough information to think about what we can learn from such an example of the company’s crisis. Communication tactics Basecamp used to address the crisis and the effectiveness of the crisis communication. Warren Buffet correctly said that in dealing with a crisis, you must “Get it right, get it fast, get it out, get it over” (9). Looking at this event under the lens of the steps advised by Mr. Buffet, Basecamp’s leadership failed in all. News of the company’s decision became one of the top trending topics on Twitter. The next day after Fried and Hansson’s announcements, Jane Yong publicly wrote on her website, “I am in the position of speaking up and using my voice with fear of being fired” (10). Basecamp’s leadership had to collect information immediately and react. Meanwhile, it took eight days for Jason Fried to publish the response. When reviewing Jack Welch’s principles of crisis management, Basecamp’s leadership failed in every step as well. They had to think fast and know that “there are no secrets” (JWI505, 13). The CEO had to understand that the situation could not be easily contained, and they “invariably will find out that the crisis is much bigger, and affects far more people, than they initially thought” (JWI505, 14). In the blog that followed the crisis and where Fried reflected on the consequences, he clearly showed that their decision about policy changes was not prepared strategically. He wrote that they felt these changes were “simple, reasonable, and principled, and it blew things up culturally in ways we never anticipated” (Fried, 12). They failed another Jack’s principle of crisis management “Do not think for one minute that outside observers will be on your side, especially if the crisis originated within your company (JWI505, 14). Because Basecamp’s leadership failed to share their thoughts immediately as the crisis developed, they faced what Bill County describes “When you don’t communicate, the rumor mill takes over, and people don’t trust anyone. And usually, the rumor mill as to what’s really going on in the organization is three times worse than reality (JWI505, 15). We do not know examples of the “funny” names mentioned in that client list. I do not say that that was the case, but it could be that these names were not that inappropriate as people tried to describe them after the story started. People quite often exaggerate things when they know little or behave emotionally. To summarize, in the Basecamp crisis, the leadership did everything they could but did it wrong. My response to this crisis is if I am a leader. In a crisis, as a leader, I would plan my strategies for external stakeholders, and I would never forget “one core audience that can make or break any crisis communications plan: employees.” “If one employee goes off script or decides to talk with the press (even unknowingly), then your entire approach may be shot” (Vermillion, 16). That is what has happened with Basecamp. Even though Fried and Hansson’s first most significant mistake was when they did not discuss internally with employee’s ideas of their new policies before making them official, their tragic second mistake was not to react as soon as the first tweets popped up. If I were in their place, I would first gather the company and apologize that a decision that touched the interests of every person was not discussed prior. After that I would explain my opinion about the changes and “Why” the leadership team decided that it was the right move. After that, regardless that the public announcement of the new policies has happened already, I would start the conversation and allow employees to express their opinions. Leaders must remember that “employees are looking to see if an organization’s response to a crisis is consistent with company values”(Merritt, 17). The company must demonstrate it even if it slipped into triggering the crisis. After gaining the first signs of trust, even if it may not be too assured yet, it is essential to agree with employees on what to say to the press and, more importantly, what not to say. Agree on who is doing what and how information goes from the external public to the company and vice versa. We would designate one or two people for press inquiries or red flags to ensure that we, as a company “one step ahead of the news cycle” and protect the business and employees (Vermillion, 16). Doing all the mentioned above, I would remind the employees that confidentiality is part of their job responsibility, and one slip-up is all it takes to destroy the company’s reputation which can lead to more severe consequences (Vermillion, 16). With all the steps that we would do together with employees, I would help them stay confident and believe that these challenging days will pass. And what is very important is that the organization will come out of the crisis stronger and will undergo changes. And to define changes, we will discuss them all together before making the official move to establish new policies. References: Katherine Bindley. 2021. A Tech Company Tried to Limit What Employees Talk About at Work. It Didn’t Go Well. https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-tech-company-tried-to-limit-what-employees-talk-about-at-work-it-didnt-go-well-11619967600 Jason Fried. 2021. Changes in Basecamp. https://world.hey.com/jason/changes-at-basecamp-7f… David Heinemeier Hansson. 2021. Basecamp’s new etiquette regarding societal politics at work. https://world.hey.com/dhh/basecamp-s-new-etiquette… Jason Fried. 2019. Twitter. https://twitter.com/jasonfried/status/109070204656… Agnes Uhereczky. 2021. Forbes. Why Do Diversity And Inclusion Initiatives Fail? The Cautionary Tail Of Basecamp. https://www.forbes.com/sites/agnesuhereczky/2021/0… Casey Newton, 2021. Twitter. https://twitter.com/caseynewton/status/13871955512… Casey Newton, 2021. Twitter. https://twitter.com/CaseyNewton/status/13882124685… Brian Armstrong. 2021. Twitter. https://twitter.com/brian_armstrong/status/1386806… JWI505. 2022. Warren Buffet Welch. Video. Tips on handling a crisis Jane Yang. 2021. https://janeyang.org/2021/04/27/an-open-letter-to-… Getdaytrends. 2021. Twitter Trends in the United States. https://getdaytrends.com/united-states/2021-04-26/… Jason Fried. 2021. An Update. https://world.hey.com/jason/an-update-303f2f99 JWI505. 2022. Jack Welch. Video. Dealing with crisis JWI505. Week 5 Lecture Notes. Crisis Communication JWI505. 2022. Bill County. In bad times, communicate more. Vermillion Stephanie. 2018. Why Internal Communication Is Critical During a Crisis Merritt Micole. 2018. Leveraging Employees as Authentic Voices During Crises Response 2 Johnnie Johnson Baby-Formula Shortage Prompts Rationing at Target, Kroger, Walgreens and CVS – WSJ March 30, 2022 Any business, at one point, will face some sort of a public relations crisis and the way you respond can either give you a much-needed image boost or significantly damage your brand, ultimately alienating your customer base and business partners. All leaders face crises in their businesses at some point. The right type of communication with employees, stakeholders, and the public can make all the difference in a dire situation. Describe the crisis faced by the organization. Prior to the February recall of Abbott Laboratories ABT -3.82%▼, one of the largest manufacturers of baby formula, supplies to consumers had already been suffering for months, says parents across the country. To further complicate issues amidst the supply chain, shoppers began to complain of tainted/bacterial contamination that has caused discomfort and extreme sickness in four babies with one dying from using this formula. What communication tactics did the organization use to address its crisis? Before any others, Walmart’s spokesperson came out as the forerunner in this crisis, resembling Expert of practice Warren Buffet’s philosophy on handling crisis situations, when dealing with a crisis “Get it Right! Get it Fast! Get it Out! Get it Over With!”, while Jack focus is taking responsibility and display transparency in crisis situations. There are no secrets, do it the right way, expose discrepancies. Challenge the system and get things out front, it is just the right way to do business. To what extent, if any, was the organization’s crisis communication plan effective? Abbott announced days earlier than they are increasing formula availability. In addition to increasing formula production at FDA-registered facilities, other companies began shipping formula from Europe by air and adding facilities suitable for producing formula for infants with special needs. It also shares supply information with rival formula makers to better meet demand. If you were a senior leader in the organization, would you have responded differently? Strong Leadership Responding to Business Crisis Situation. Assertive leadership should quickly respond to business crises by providing a significant direction toward business risk mitigation. Your critical task is to develop criteria and link expectations to these measures. Conceive a business risk alternative strategy. A practical method is to get your team together and arrange a meeting. You must schedule two appointments: the first one will aim to get the people together and allow them to unleash their frustration and other emotions. It will be necessary for the team to be of clear mind and inclined to discuss risk management procedures at the second meeting. During the second meeting with the team, we should discuss the direction and set specific timeframes for the implementation once the primary focus or strategy of relief is determined and set due dates. The next step is to manage effort expectations to respond to the business crises. It would be beneficial to always keep the business risk mitigation strategy under authority with solid leadership, react to business emergencies, and remain aware of any changes in the situation. Summary Good leadership should provide an outlook during any business crisis and persuade the team of a successful outcome.
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