Only two months have passed since the elected officials in Colombia took office for 2020 to 2023. This time has been enough to take a first look at the way they do their work. Some who did not organize good communication begin to see their deficiencies translated in low percentages in the surveys of favorability and credibility; others, not many pass the exam for having made a communication plan that already bears fruit.
The scorpion is an animal that decides to stick its sting to die immediately, feeling surrounded by fire. This behavior is used to describe what seems to happen to many elected or appointed officials who, when cornered by the lack of management of the issues, the lack of a strategic communication plan, lack of clarity in their messages (including speech and attitudes) together with a poor disposition for communication and an unprepared team for the challenge they face, they begin to take steps to destroy themselves quickly. This phenomenon is already happening to some in just the first two months of mandate or administration.
In successful cases, although they are too few, to be honest, we see that things seem to be going well. Their percentages in the surveys of favorability, credibility, and trust are high. Citizens speak positively of these officials; the media celebrate their actions, and their administrations advance in consolidating their government programs.
Everyone asks why some will fall into the scorpion syndrome and why others are far from that situation? Two behaviors determine what these officials are doing, whether positive or negative. The negative is the mixture of arrogance and inexperience that will prevent them from understanding the game and its rules, which will become the fire that surrounds them and leads to self-elimination. Those who do them well, that is to say positive, do so with humility and coherence that will strengthen them to survive, make sense of the game, and win it.
In an earlier article, I explained that those doing well have a clear plan, stop their ego, have speech and attitudes that generate positioning and reputation, awaken solidarity, read what public opinion is feeling and the agenda policy, and submit to government communication.
Read here: From the Campaign to Government Management
In that article, I raised the cause of many problems for the new officials. To these is added as a consequence, the error of mistakenly assuming the development of the years of government. Officials who do it wrong act motivated by excessive ego and a desire for differentiation from their predecessor, a passion that looks more like arrogance; they lose their way and fall surrounded by fire. From there, its elimination is close. The following characteristics are the wrong interpretation of each year of government, which causes the scorpion effect.
YEAR 1, the newly elected believes that things will be like in the campaign because it was successful and does not change. That official believes that everything about his predecessor is terrible, and from that wrong and arrogant trial, he begins to make decisions and send messages that are poorly received by citizens, who did not choose him to do an audit of his predecessor but to give them an option to improve the quality of life. Citizens accept that the outgoing official would do something well and, we must recognize it. That is what the ego of the new office does not let him see or understand. Finally, arrogance in this first year is manifested by the official’s attitude that he “knows them all.” He considers that his vision is the only valid one and that the solution to the problems or satisfaction of the citizens’ expectations is only achieved by imposing their ideas and thus identifying themselves with public opinion. This practice will not happen, and the reaction will be adverse for the rejection of citizens. While the three errors of the first year do not need to exist together, it is clear that one of the three will predominate and attract the other two. One or all three will cause a bad first year known as “the lost year.”
YEAR 2, the official and his administration, who already paid a high price in the negative image and the relationship with citizens, understand that their role was wrong, the attitude must be very different from succeeding, and they start what is called “the year of learning.” In this period, the official understands the game from controlling arrogance and having some experience. His government’s vision, the problems, the solutions, and the relationship with the citizens change him to the force, and the management begins to have flashes of effectiveness. The official starts to find the benefits of acting differently than the previous period wasted and lost. By the end of this second year, you will have a better connection with the environment and be ready to start the third moment of your government with optimism. The negative consequence at this point will be to have wasted two years, which is half of his period, to tune into his role. The effects in terms of percentages of favorability, trust, and efficiency are low and generally unrecoverable.
YEAR 3 is known as “the year of management” because it is the only time in the four-year period in which the ruler will be able to execute or start developing his government plan. It will pass very quickly, and there will be very little that I can do. He will fight with a bad image and reject citizens, political sectors, federal authorities, and even his party. When he can best be doing his job, he will be left, condemned by opinion, and ignored by many key actors. he will buy support and favors with actions, which, while they are not illegal, are not ethical. His days will be used by trying to show management and survive politically. He will pronounce the magic phrase that will condemn him: “my government does have things to show but that they have not been able to communicate,” so with those words said with conviction will accept that it was not known to communicate from the beginning. The final stretch of his term will begin.
YEAR 4 It will be the beginning of the end of his term with a discredit and bad image galloping and with the lowest or negative indexes. The most political and political period will also begin for the next election. Everyone, citizens, officials, and politicians, among other sectors, will be thinking about the upcoming election and which candidate they will want to support. Most of its people will take distance from the rude president and lose the little flow he has. Even friends will turn their backs. The moment, which is “the year of the next election,” as it is known, will end the countdown so that it ends soon. The ego will find it hard to accept what happened but will not stand still and seek to claim itself in a foreign body in the next election or recharge the spirit to win another election and promise himself that he will not repeat the history of the scorpion.
Two months later, if the lousy start is detected, the official can implement some solutions quickly. It is a recommendation to urgently adopt the PRAGS model developed by me for these cases. An assessment of the spokesperson and communication using the ADLE model designed for that. You have to create a strategic plan and implement it, make a review of the communications team (positions and people), and above all, act with humility and clarity. To learn more about improving government communication in the face of a bad start, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, tell me your need or project, and I can surely help you.