Communication can be hard in the best of times. Communication in a constantly changing environment requires all the skills you can muster. In a period of uncertainty, in the age of COVID-19, good communication is more important than ever.
In a previous blog I shared 3 success factors for effective communication: empathy, honesty, and tone. Everyone reacts to crisis differently and it’s your job as a leader to help people stay calm while keeping them informed.
Here are 3 communication tips to guide your team:
Information is changing on a daily basis. Be careful about making commitments because you could have to walk it back the next day. Avoid saying things like ‘We’ll never do…’ or ‘There’s no way we would…’ You don’t know what could happen and one of the fastest ways to lose trust is to make promises you can’t keep. Going back on a commitment also leads to confusion and frustration. The two biggest questions on the minds of workers are:
- Are we still open for business?
- If so, can we work from home?
Be careful not to make snap decisions about these big issues. As a leader, you are viewing this from a business standpoint but it’s important to weigh your team member’s concerns as well. And you don’t know what mandates may force you to adapt.
Lead Like a Boss Pro Tip: Using a phrase such as ‘This policy is subject to change as new information is made available’ sets the expectation for change. That makes it easier for people to accept a new policy without losing trust in you.
Because information is changing so fast. A decision you made yesterday may be totally obsolete today. A leader needs to be able to sift through the information and make the best decisions for both people and business. Staying in touch with other business leaders is good practice but ultimately the decisions you make will be unique to your own situation.
Lead Like a Boss Pro Tip: Spend time each day evaluating the decisions you made yesterday and be willing to make adjustments as needed.
Your team wants to hear from you so step up your communication efforts. If weekly staff meetings are your usual way of communicating with your team you may want to add a few more touch points in between. Whether you touch base through email, phone, or video conference, don’t underestimate the importance of keeping your team informed and connected.
Lead Like a Boss Pro Tip: People are naturally curious and they want to know what’s going on, even if there is nothing going on. Not knowing can be stressful so communicate even if you don’t have anything new to share. Simple say ‘There is nothing to new to report at this time but I want to check in to see what questions or concerns you have.’
To recap, as a leader you are responsible for keeping your team calm and informed. So, be cautious, evaluate often, and communicate frequently to build trust and give your team the direction and leadership they want from you.