During times of uncertainty, employees want to know what business changes impact them, their team and their daily work; how and when the changes will be implemented and how things are progressing; and what they can do to help. Consistent and clear communications are critical. At The Fletcher Group, we counsel our clients on the following principles to effectively communicate through change:
1. Start at the top, then cascade down. In a time of crisis, words and actions are important. Employees need to hear directly from leadership. A c-suite leader’s message should align words and actions with a company’s culture and what she or he wants employees to know, think and do. Then, arm your supervisors with additional communications tips on how, specifically, to deliver messages from the top in a clear manner. In many companies, a direct supervisor is oftentimes an employee’s most trusted source and they look to them for answers and guidance during change. Managers need to be kept informed, and they should receive advance messages on any further changes, progress or transitions, along with guidance on how and when to communicate.
2. Provide two-way communications opportunities. Employees may also appreciate a forum to ask questions about the business changes, as well as to offer ideas for helping the organization run more effectively. Offering vehicles for two-way communication opportunities will help employees feel heard and get their questions answered.
3. Regular updates. Employees need a steady cadence of communications. In a crisis, businesses should consider adhering to a calendar of regular communications so employees know what to expect, where and when. Large companies with multiple locations should also determine who should be responsible for cascading any updates and/or serve as the liaison to corporate communications to ensure well-rounded, consistent communications.
4. Offer clarity about the who, what and where. One of the most frustrating things for employees, when there are significant business changes, is not knowing who they should contact for specific project needs or questions. To help projects from stalling and to curb this frustration, find ways to make sure everyone has access to find information easily and get questions answered.
5. Recognition. Don’t forget to maintain your company’s reward and recognition programs during times of change. These programs should recognize behaviors that are in keeping with your company’s culture and business goals.
6. Crisis simulation. If you’re lucky enough to prepare and practice before a crisis hits, consider working through a crisis simulation as a critical stress test. Simulations aren’t just for external communications prep and can include an entire leadership team across the organization. Better to be prepared, right?
Need help getting the right message to your internal teams? Connect with us and we’ll help you through it.