While most businesses and corporations have not yet reached “back to normal”, many of us are working to move forward as if things were normal. While striving for normalcy should put us at ease and provide a level of comfort during our continually uncertain times, for many, this has instead caused more stress. As we actively seek to implement continual changes to keep up with the changing environment and/or regulations around them the need for great communication increases.
When striving to keep a “people first” mentality within your company, be sure to remember that springing change on your talent and resources can easily insight more fear, stir objection, and cause new stressors to arise. We’ve gathered a compilation of best practices for communicating change, whether planned or unplanned, during a crisis.
When a change arises, lean in to empathy. Empathy will first drive you to make sure your decisions involve your people and their needs. Empathy can help you remember your “why” in the midst of uncertainty.
Define the why behind the changes by seeking for full clarity. Make a list of concerns and questions that you as the leader have about the change and seek for definitive answers. YOUR objective is to have the clearest understanding of the objective itself as possible. If you yourself do not have clarity on the objective of your changes, how will your people get clarity?
Once you have clarity on the objective, why the change is needed, share what you are driving towards. If goals have shifted, share the new goals. Lead with honesty and vulnerability.
Make room for input and be willing to share EVERYTHING that is known and open enough to share what is not known.
Offer hope amidst the current realities while keeping aware of what the needs are.
Be clear, be clear, be clear. Do not withhold information that could help make the objective more clear. And remember to be proactive in your messaging, don’t let others define the narrative of the changes.
Communicating the Urgency of the Change
Once you’ve stated a very clear objective for the change, paint a picture of the results if the change does not occur. Allowing them to see the negative possibilities without the forthcoming change is not meant to alarm or manipulate your people, it is simply to help bring a deeper understanding to the objective.
Give a clear timeline of the rollout for the changes. Do not express urgency without having prepared dates and times to the best of your ability.
Communication that stewards a culture of trust and engagement requires more than a well-crafted message. When urgency is in play, trust can easily fall through the cracks. Prevent losing the trust of employees by encouraging candid conversations, honesty and vulnerability as you push forward towards goals.
As you are seeking to understand the objective for the change, prepare your action plan as well. Your action plan for implementing the changes that need to occur should be ready to hand to your people when you announce the changes. Outlining the steps in the order they should occur and practical implications of each step presented when the change is announced will show your devotion to your people, reduce panic and chaos and provide for the smoothest transition.
Provide training and resources to support the changes if new tasks or programs will be introduced.
Solicit input and listen with care while continuing to keep awareness of individuals' needs in the situation.
Frequency of information builds trust. You don’t need to continuously put out new information, but providing the same information on multiple platforms and more frequently will support your people as they begin to activate the changes requested.
At Talent Magnet Institute we believe that “it’s not simply the decisions you make, it’s how you communicate those decisions that will determine whether you become an employer of choice, or not.” We want to continue to encourage everyone that we can to FOCUS on great communication, no matter the circumstances.
We would love to help you develop as a leader, so check out how we can work together here.