Trust your people to be responsible

trust your people
What does this mean? Well, it took a 137 word briefing document to explain it.

Today a story about lack of clarity in messaging and why, instead of trusting the messenger, the general response has been distrust and derision.

Up until yesterday, Sunday May 10th, the UK Government slogan was:

Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives

Yesterday they changed to the above:

Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives

This met with massive derision from a vast swathe of commentators and the general public.

I’ve been thinking about this, though, and actually the underlying message does feel clear to me. It is a messaging shift from “do what we say and we will all be ok”, to “we are asking you to be self-responsible so we can all be ok”.

This is an important shift and, as the nuance of the “Dance” of “Hammer and Dance” begins, we will only be able to gradually ease back to relatively normal life if we all are self-responsible in our behaviour and choices.

So, why has this message landed so poorly?

Simple. The UK Government consistently shows in the way that they operate that they don’t feel they can trust people with the facts and with their strategy.

Lessons for leaders here? Trust your people, they are adults, they can take even the toughest messages if delivered with transparency and honesty.

Be transparent, show you trust your people. Do that, then when you ask them to take responsibility themselves, they are likely to trust you and act on that request.

Unfortunately I feel the UK Government has not yet recognised the need to trust their people, hence the “dance” will be take longer and be more damaging than otherwise it could be.

Oh, and to close, a long time ago I wrote: “Inigo Montoya – Masterclass on introducing yourself“, on clarity of communication. This then appeared on twitter today, loved it!. Now THIS is how to communicate clearly.

Also published on Medium.