Clear communication is the cornerstone of effective leadership. During an ongoing and unprecedented crisis, however, it is vital!
This year has tested everyone’s internal communications strategies and, with the extra challenge of mass remote working and unpredictable lockdown restrictions, it’s likely many of us threw elements of those plans out of the window and simply did our best.
While the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines may herald the beginning of the end of this particular crisis, restrictions remain and tough decisions lie ahead. Right now, you need your people to rally. HR teams are a vital cog in this communication machine, especially where employees are currently on furlough – with the scheme due to end in March, your teams will be hungry for information.
So, if you’ve yet to decide on your New Year’s resolutions, why not include a focus on internal communications on your 2021 list? Here we’ve provided you with our top tips to help get you started.
Make a plan
While it’s likely any internal communications plan may need to be frequently reviewed due to the changing nature of the coronavirus crisis, having a strategy down on paper is a good place to start. Decide how frequently you need to communicate with employees, who should do this (executives, the HR team or line managers) and by what method, as well as how much information you want to share. You want your company to be seen as a trusted source of information on the impact of the pandemic on your business, as well as Covid-19 itself, to help alleviate anxiety and keep people motivated.
The method by which you communicate is especially important, particularly as people continue to be encouraged to work from home. Think about how you can effectively reach the people you need outside of the office, for example, through Zoom meetings, email etc. However, you may work for a company where not everyone has a work email address. If not, could you ask permission to use personal email addresses for key updates to ensure everyone is included?
Encourage two-way communication
Communication isn’t just broadcasting, it’s listening too! Utilising technology to our advantage, you could host a live Q&A with executives or other key members of staff as an example. However, whatever you choose to innovate your communications, make sure there are always clear channels for feedback, such as through anonymous surveys that capture reactions to and help inform your internal strategy.
Plan the frequency of messages
Regular updates at predictable times help to provide stability, even when there isn’t much to say. Misinformation and damaging gossip occur in a vacuum so timely communication, even if the message isn’t especially polished, is better than nothing or saying something that promises too much. Setting expectations of when those who have been furloughed should hear from you will help them maintain a sense of connection with their place of work.
Consider your tone
This pandemic has been a unique shared experience – not one person hasn’t been affected. While the nature of what you’re communicating is very serious, think about whether striking a more personable tone is appropriate. In difficult times, we want to feel close to other people so your message would benefit from a more personal human touch. Be honest about what you don’t know, be willing to engage and even consider sharing your own experiences of living and working through this time.
It’s likely that many of your employees may be struggling with their mental health and emotional wellbeing right now. Some may have suffered from coronavirus or know others who have, and many may feel anxious about their jobs, especially if they’ve been furloughed. Being kind in our communication is the very least they should be expecting from us. Seek to understand their worries and give people time to adjust to the changes taking place around them.
Your people are your company’s greatest asset. If you’re looking for some extra guidance on how to communicate effectively with them at this challenging time, get in touch with Tell Jane. Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.