Tips for clarity and impactful communication during the crisis
The way leaders communicate in times of crisis and uncertainty is critical to keep people engaged, willing to perform and emotionally stable. At this point in time most people are somewhat accustomed to WFH and many online meetings. But yet, whenever we discuss with team-members on any level, many of them don’t feel secure with the actual situation. They don’t exactly know what their line-managers or the top-management is thinking, how they are preparing for worse scenarios or even for the transition to the ‘New Normal’, however that might look like.
Maslows Hierarchy of Needs teaches us, that ‘Safety needs’ and ‘Belongingness needs’ are fundamental. If they are not fulfilled, people feel concerned, emotionally not stable, they lose trust. It is a challenge for many leaders in this crisis to connect in a meaningful way with their teams or to communicate clearly what is about to happen. But if they avoid these conversations, they risk losing their people’s engagement, performance and well-being. Here are some tips that might be helpful for you to create a more meaningful way of communication with your teams:
- Show your Strengths as a Leader
This does not mean that you have to appear tough like the hero in battle. But before you interact with teams online, be aware of how you feel, what are your concerns and what are your particular strengths and personal resources to manage this crisis. Write them down, put them somewhere to remind you. And before each meeting look at them for self-assurance, take a deep breath and be the best version of yourself. After all, people look for someone who can give them a sense of stability.
- Say what you can – Clear and with Focus
Information about the crisis situation is already too complex and confusing. Before every online meeting prepare yourself to give a short and clear overview of what is happening or what the company plans to do. Write it down in bullet-points to create clarity for yourself first and stick to it. Be as transparent as possible but if there are informations you can not talk about, then don’t.
- Be Positive, but Realistic – you do not have to have all Answers
A disheartened and negative leader is not motivating. Neither is one who is always optimistic or trying to create ‘fantasy islands’. Be realistic, with a positive note – and if you do not know something, say it. People will appreciate it and you will not loose your credibility.
- You can not over-communicate
Many leaders think that when they have shared a piece of information, everyone must have heard it. This is far from true. If you talk with your team online, it is very likely that they sometimes understand and interprete your information different from your intention. Especially in times of change and crisis, you must communicate repeatedly and through a variety of different channels. Share informatin one-way with big teams, then discuss the same information with smaller portions of the team. Have one-on-ones to repeat the messages and to listen to input, send out emails, short videos, analogies, graphics, assign people in your departments strategically as Comms-Ambassadors.