Yesterday saw a classic ‘U-turn’ in political campaigning as Teresa May did a quick 180 on the issue of what has been called the ‘dementia tax’. Having published their manifesto only 24 hours before, the response to this key ‘vote-losing’ policy saw Prime Minister May announce the revised policy to an excited gathering of Welsh supporters and completely deny that any turnaround had taken place. ‘Strong and stable’ leadership was suddenly termed ‘weak and wobbly’ by the gathering of press.
In recent British political campaigns, this policy would most likely have remained, despite it unpopularity, potentially losing key votes to the party. However, as our political parties monitor the voice of the people through the social media channels, so they can gauge what is, and is not, being well received and perform their ‘invisible turnaround’ maneuvers in quick fashion.
Whether this will have a lasting impact on the campaign of Mrs. May is yet to be seen; although with what would appear to be an unassailable lead in the polls, it would appear that it would be difficult for her to give away her lead at this stage. However, recent times have seen remarkable surprises in political campaigns across the US (Trump), France (Macron), UK (Brexit) and in the Middle East (Arab Spring), a social media has spread focused communication like wildfire on critical issues.
The lesson to be learned for business from all of this is perhaps the importance of organisations listening in to the voice of their employees as they announce and take measures that could be damaging to levels of engagement and business performance.
Just as political organisations realise that they need to much more nimble to respond to the feedback of their constituents to policy changes, so business ought to be similarly tuned and agile in their response to both internal employee and external competitive pressures.
Social media has changed the communications landscape for good, the question is how quickly will organisations, either political or business, take to respond to these changes and recognise that they ignore critical constituent feedback at their peril.
Agree with it or not, there is something to be said for the Tory campaign that listened, analysed and acted in a very timely manner to something that was clearly very unpopular . Denying that it ever happened in the first place; however, will no doubt dent credibility and trust, and perhaps lose more than a few votes along the way!