Clear communication of plans is difficult at the best of times. Having to do so in times of uncertainty, when the information on which those plans rely is constantly shifting, makes it even tougher. Today, companies need to create trust and communicate their responses to the pandemic. There may also be economic uncertainty due to international conflict, or political unrest.
With plenty of shifting variables, leaders should be clear and concise in their communications. This means outlining why they are making their decisions with the available information while making it clear that this information might change. Internal communication is crucial to keep employees informed and on top of the job at hand. Providing regular updates plays an essential part in keeping everyone focused, aligned, and most importantly, calm in the face of uncertainty.
Typical workforce moods during times of uncertainty
Obstacles are a normal part of business, particularly in an uncertain business climate, but some problems start becoming more evident.
Employees have constant frustration
Morale is suffering in more than one business area
Remote working is becoming more difficult
Increase in negative assumptions and company outlook
Customer experiences highlight lack of empathy or lower levels of willingness
The company’s core values are no longer a priority
How to improve internal communication during these times of uncertainty
Here are 11 ways that can help you.
You may not always have all the answers but it’s imperative that your workforce trusts that you’re communicating with them as soon as you are able. Use opinion polls to include them in your decisions when possible and over-communicate on where you’re at as an organization.
- Keep messaging consistent
As far as possible, keep the message, direction, and tone of communication consistent. If there’s no consistency in messages, then people don’t trust it anymore.
- Be upfront about hard decisions
Making difficult organizational and staffing decisions is something that leaders have often have to do. As leaders receive new information, communication needs to be handled delicately. Making staffing commitments and then breaking them a few weeks later creates distrust among everyone.
- Building support for Employees
In times of uncertainty, it is vital that leaders acknowledge the importance of employee wellbeing in their communications. Share content or provide links that give employees more information that covers the most obvious questions, as well as who to contact if they need further information. Those in support need to be accessible to provide a time for questions. Handling anonymous question asking is also valuable for employees too afraid to come forward.
Productivity is often the first casualty in a department. Focus on best practices that accelerate deliverables.
Employees want to feel connected and informed. Communication is critical in keeping staff engaged and feeling that they are still contributing to organizational success.
- Be proactive and positive
It’s vital to show employees that the company is monitoring information closely so it can be interpreted and disseminated. It’s preparing to deal with the changes and ensure that operations can adapt and continue. Emphasizing light at the end of the tunnel will make the most of a new and unique situation.
- Take advantage of Technology
Using digital tools keeps the workforce connected. The right tools can help with continuous alignment as well as pulse surveys to understand your employee concerns. Their feedback can be an input to influence how you communicate.
Even when the need to communicate a message is apparent, the time and place to deliver it may not be. Consider how the information will affect employees individually and collectively. Is it better to directly approach an individual, or is the problem more widespread, justifying a communication to everyone?
- Enable Executive leadership
Executive leaders can provide clarity in messaging and create a sense of stability for all employees. If employees perceive there is clear direction, they have more confidence in the company. The CEO, in particular, can affirm awareness and action on key matters.
- Positive content makes a big difference
Employees also seek content and resources for mental well-being and sources of positivity. In this regard, emphasize the company wins, employee achievements, customer success stories, industry recognition, and tough decisions that really paid off.
The time of uncertainty will end. Help employees make sense of it. Early on, be clear about what your organization will achieve during it.
While it’s important to shape messages of meaning for your organization, it’s equally important to listen. Ask employees what conclusions they are drawing during a time of uncertainty and seek to address their perceptions with intent.