Corporate Communications – Avoiding a Crisis of Confidence

August 2, 2013

By: Betsy Neville

A recent Wall St. Journal opinion piece by Gerald F. Seib calls out the “Crisis of Confidence” in government. His is a familiar theory on expectations and their relationship with disapproval. Seib’s commentary on what happens when government does not meet expectations could just as aptly apply to companies and other organizations.

Seib uses recent government approval ratings to make his point. Congress just earned the lowest Gallup approval rating ever at 10 percent. The president’s approval rating of 36 percent is 20 points lower than a decade ago. Most people, Seib asserts, were brought up with the notion that governments should do great things. The government won World War II, built the interstate highway system, desegregated schools, put a man on the moon, cleaned up the air, built the biggest computers and conjured up the Internet. But Seib points out; “We’ve been in a slow decline over the last four decades, most recently culminating in legislative acrimony and stalemate.”

So it’s really a very relevant reminder that Seib provides in his commentary on government: belief devolves into disbelief and skepticism when expectations continue to go unmet. And with disbelief comes a loss of confidence, which is far more dangerous to progress than the dysfunction itself.

In a recent meeting, a client illustrated the risk in describing her own organization’s challenges. She said her company must overcome current expectations of failure to create a belief in its ability to expand into new services. Only then could its senior executives begin to advance their growth strategy and maintain the company’s competitiveness.

How does she hope to achieve this? By turning to communications experts who understand the world of perceptions, confidence and beliefs and how they can make or break the ease and viability with which an organization can pursue its goals. FleishmanHillard’s Authenticity Gap provides a roadmap for companies to follow to successfully manage expectations. Through its ability to show companies the drivers of their reputation and the specific expectations they might be facing both as an industry and individually, it helps organizations gain the needed alignment between experiences and expectations. The result is the confidence that Seib judges so critical to success, and without which he points out, roadblocks to progress will emerge.