4 ways leaders can create certainty in uncertain times
By Crystal Hyde
Getting communication right is difficult when employees, customers and partners are faced with a tsunami of information.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, that has never been more true.
While it can seem like adding to an already overwhelming amount of information is a waste, your stakeholders — those invested in your business — want and need to hear from its leaders regularly to better understand how to digest all of this news.
When there is information overload or a level of uncertainty our instinct tells us to remain silent, to let the wave pass and wait; however as the captains of the ship, the crew needs direction now more than ever to navigate the turbulence and steer in the right direction.
The “Great Resignation” is another indicator that employees are crying out for some level of certainty from their employer and as we have all learned during the pandemic silence can easily breed paranoia in even the most self-assured people.
Thoughtful, diligent and genuine communication is the key to steadying employees, customers and the public about your business’s current status and building confidence in your leadership.
Communicating effectively takes fortitude, frequency, clarity and authenticity in order to connect with your audience and build trust. How do you step up your leadership communications to offer more assurance to your stakeholders?
Here are the ways leaders can improve their communications to connect with the audiences that matter most:
Make it a habit
If not already the case, frequent communications with your employees need to be part of your daily routines.
Employees working on the front lines and behind the scenes need to hear from their leaders with guidance to position world news in the context of their interests as part of your business.
A lot of what must be communicated at present isn’t happy news, but your employees will far prefer to hear it directly from their leadership rather than using guesswork.
Share the positivity
Share positive news wherever you can.
Leaders working on solutions in silence and failing to communicate because they are “too busy saving the company” or “want to wait until everything is confirmed” are leaving their most valuable resources in the dark.
Governments are holding regular news briefings to show action and share updates to ensure the public is aware of their actions. Whether or not you bring your employees along with you on the journey will make or break your business.
Use your website
Update your website and social media channels with the announcements, changes, and progress you have made thus far during the pandemic — this archive is a strong proof point of your action, engagement and real-time activity.
As we shift to a reopening strategy your website is more important than ever as it’s your storefront even if you do not sell tangible goods and its where you can communicate to customers and the public if you’re open, and changes to your business processes and how to access your services.
Create a culture of connection
Create a culture of connection starting at the top.
Reach out to your direct reports to ask how they are doing and find out if there is anything they need right now.
Encourage leaders to reach out to their teams by sending personal messages to just check-in and ask how they are and answer any questions they may have.
This creates an open dialogue and by inviting questions you create an opportunity to learn more about how you are doing as a leader and help identify any gaps.
Leaders can underestimate the significance of their voice and their perspective, but even just the gesture of reaching out is important right now.
No one has all the answers, but each of us needs to be talking, active and aiming to connect with each key stakeholder to build confidence and sustain that connection through these times of uncertainty.
Crystal Hyde is a professional certified coach in Waterloo, Ont., and founder of Propel Leadership Coaching, which specializes in communications consulting and leadership coaching.
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