My Top Tips for Employee Communications in times of Uncertainty
Britain are coming up with a plan to leave the arms of the European Union (EU), other EU countries are discussing whether they want to be in or out of the EU, America are looking for a new President. The overriding concern for people in these situations is that nobody really knows what the change means or what will happen when it does. We are living in uncertain times.
When you don’t have the answers it can be tempting to bury your head in the sand and say nothing at all.
But when you are responsible for teams of people, people who look to you for leadership and communication, the worst thing you can do is say nothing.
The act of actually getting people together to communicate, is saying something.
It’s saying that you care. It’s saying that you are in this together. Its saying you want to keep the lines of communication open. You want to see their faces. You want to hear their voices.
In times of change and uncertainty all too often, businesses go quiet.
If they haven’t got the answers, they’d rather not say.
I say, if you haven’t got the answers, it doesn’t matter.
You can still handle the situation.
You can still talk.
You can still listen.
You might even find some comfort in the conversation.
Your people are your business. Involve them.
The more involved and understanding people are of the situation, the more likely it is you’ll come up with a way to overcome and manage it together.
My top tips for Employee Communications in times of uncertainty are:
People smell BS a mile off. The best thing you can do for credibility and trust is to be as honest as you can be. Tell it how it is. If you haven’t got the answer, say so.
However, don’t just close off with an “I don’t know”. Provide a bit more context around the issue so people understand why there isn’t an answer yet. And explain what needs to happen before you will have one.
Set some expectations if at all possible.
Let people know how you plan to keep them updated and how they can continue to contribute.
And stick to it. Building trust in a time of uncertainty is crucial.
Keep the lines of communication open
Communicate, listen, create opportunities for people to come together and share.
They say “a problem shared is a problem halved” for a reason.
People feel better united in times of uncertainty. Create the opportunity to unite.
That could be an event, a social get together, an online forum.
Let people express how they feel.
It is so valuable to get an understanding of how people are feeling and what they are thinking. The insight will help you guide how you tackle the challenges ahead.
Find ways to let people feedback and contribute. Provide a place where employees can capture and raise questions. Whether that is a shared document, a flip chart in a room, a white board on the wall, a group on facebook for work.
Let people share ideas and what they are thinking.
It is better to have more organised ways of people sharing information than to let pockets of gossip and conjecture take over. If you know what people are saying, no matter what it is they are saying, you are in a stronger position to find the right way forward.
Commit to reviewing the ideas, questions and feedback. As soon as you have an update, share it.
Even if you have remote or shift based employee’s there are still many ways with technology that you can keep the lines of communication open. For further information, get in touch.
If people are really emotionally struggling, if you have an employee assistance programme, or similar, make sure people know how to access it.
Find direction in your purpose
Even when it feels like the world around you is changing so much so that the way you do business right now is no longer viable, look back to your purpose.
Your purpose shouldn’t change, the way to go about achieving it might have to.
So look right back to your vision, your reason for being, the change you wish to see in the world, why the business exists.
Your why shouldn’t change, you just might need to work with your people on the how.
And the great news is, because the lines of communication are open; because you are trusted through open, honest communication; because you are united in a common purpose; and because you are listening; together you will much more likely find a way ahead, than if your head was buried in the sand.
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