How to Talk to Your Team During a Pandemic
It’s time for steady decision-making and lots of repetition
The coronavirus pandemic — and its economic impact — is already proving to be an intense stress test for businesses of all sizes and types. Many leaders are under tremendous pressure, navigating uncharted territory with no clear end in sight. While executive teams are busy reexamining their financial models and forecasts, they still must juggle the day-to-day, which now includes staying in close communication with anxious employees and offering them a steady stream of empathy, candor, and motivation.
During times of uncertainty, defaulting to over-communication with your employees is important. How do you make sure you strike the right tone when communicating?
Building trust and security
Employees have a lot of faith in their leaders. In its global 2020 Trust Barometer survey, the PR firm Edelman reported that employees view their own companies as the institution they trust the most — well ahead of business at large, government, or media. That means what founders, leaders, and managers do during an emergency calls for a lot more than simply “messaging.” It requires erring on the side of over-communicating with all your constituents. But rising to the occasion during an unnerving and unprecedented time is less about what you say and more what you do — in those initial moments and every moment beyond it.
As you are planning, remember that your people need to hear from you with specifics about what you’re putting into place at your company, and how it affects them. They need relevant and factual information, including where to go with specific questions. They also need to know that you won’t disappear — that they’ll hear from you again and again as the situation unfolds. (As I’ve written before, a robust internal communications function is key to managing tough situations.)
At the end of the day, your employees are all human beings who seek security even before fulfillment.
Especially in an all-encompassing crisis like this one, we’re drowning in a gusher of…