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Copyright © 2007 Deon Binneman
Used with permission of the author:
Author: Deon Binneman
Email: deonbin@icon.co.za

13 December 2007

As an employee, individual and citizen of this country we are faced with this dichotomy every day of our lives.

As an employee, you may find yourself at a barbecue when someone turns around and asks you what it is like working for your organisation? Now do you tell the truth – after all transparency and the truth are vital today or do you give the traditional corporate talking head version: “We are a company of integrity, a company of beer and roses?”

As a citizen the South African government expects you to be a proud citizen, an ambassador of this country but on the other hand you experience and deal with crime and corruption every day. Must you therefore be loyal and not speak the truth?

The media is castigated for speaking the truth or apparently only giving their version for not reporting enough on the good news. Again, truth versus loyalty! How do we balance this in our organisations?

In other organisations, serious witch hunts are undertaken when a mysterious e-mail surfaces highlighting contentious issues and incidents. Again, what do organisations want? Truth or Loyalty?

As an employee what should you do about issues in your organisation? Speak up and get “bombed?” Speak up and be castigated as an “impimpi?” (A spy) Phone a friend in the media? BCC the wrong person? Leave it until it destroys your organisation’s good name?

Here are a few questions you should ask in this context and ideas that you can use:

  • What is the state of upwards flow of communication in your organisation?

    • Is the process working well?

  • Are you relying on tools such as anonymous hotlines and other forms of media?

    • Who measures their effectiveness and efficiency?

    • Does your hotline to which people can call in or ask a question work?

    • Can I phone it without fear of negative repercussions?

    • Do you have in place a cross-functional panel which can respond and provide recommended alternates if needed?

  • Do you have an active suggestion scheme operating in your organisation? (For a PDF document on how to operate a suggestion scheme, e-mail me at deonbin@icon.co.za). Ideas are the lifeblood of innovation.

  • Take a close look at the Occupational Health & Safety Act and its communication system.

    • It is a tried and tested system that works well under the right conditions.

    • Can you learn from it?

  • Examine statistics such as exit interviews, internal audit reports, safety records, etc.

Deon Binnemanis a well-known speaker, consultant, trainer and writer who is considered among the most influential experts on the management of corporate reputation and the mitigation of reputation risk. He is widely-praised for his ability to communicate reputation and crisis issues into language that non-experts can easily understand. Deon has spoken at many conferences and facilitated workshops in locally and overseas. He is a prolific writer and has authored many articles in traditional and electronic media, including a chapter in Prof. Charles Fombrun’s book called “The Advice Business – Essential Tools and Models for Management Consulting” (Prentice Hall) called “Consultancy Marketing: Developing the Right Mindset”. Deon formerly worked as an internal Organisational Behaviour consultant in the retail sector, consulting to six business units on the management of change, communication and capacity building, and is a former Business Adviser to the Small Business Development Corporation, counselling and training entrepreneurs. Deon has designed, developed and facilitated numerous training workshops including Reputation Risk Management Master Classes, Stakeholder Reputation, The Management of Corporate Reputation, Health & Safety Skills for Managers & Crisis Management & Communication Response. He is a graduate of Henley Management College (UK) and the Graduate Institute of Management and Technology and holds qualifications in Public Relations, Strategic Management, Strategic Human Resources Management, Occupational Health and Safety and Governance, Risk and Ethics.

- Dynamic and skillful speaker with in-depth knowledge and application of topics ranging from Corporate Reputation Issues to Organisational Behaviour.
- Reputation Risk Management and Crisis Management specialist assisting companies to build, sustain and protect its reputation.
- Extensive experience in training and development and working with a variety of groups in various types of settings.

He can be contacted at: Tel: 27 (011) 475-3515, Fax: 0866 129 566, Mobile: 083 425 4318 Email: deonbin@icon.co.za Blog: Deon Binneman on Managing Reputation: http://deonbinneman.wordpress.com/ Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/deonbinP.O. Box 3285, Honeydew, Johannesburg, South Africa 2040

Short summary
Employees and management are faced daily with choosing between loyalty and revealing the truth.

Keywords and relevant phrases
communication, corporate culture, feedback, loyalty, Occupational Health & Safety Act, protection, reputation, safety, security, truth, whistle blowing,  

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Gary Watkins

Gary Watkins

Managing Director


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