6 tips to ensure effective employee communication during a crisisSromona Bhattacharyya
With the frantic pace of our everyday work life, we are so engrossed with post-its and juggling deadlines that we often keep postponing not-so- ‘important’ tasks for the next month which often proves to be counter-productive later on. One such task is effective crisis management.
When hit with a crisis situation, managers and business leaders often go all ballistics to solve the problem at hand, forgetting about their employees, and thinking that they are the last people on their ‘needs attention’ list. But, doing this will do more harm than good as it is very essential for a business leader to communicate with their employees effectively.
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Regardless of the company’s size or industry, effective employee communication calls for putting the proper organizational structure and processes in place when faced with extreme stressful situations. This includes assigning responsibilities and training employees which enable seamless vertical (top-down as well as bottom-up) and horizontal employee communication. Here is a list of few tips that you can use to ensure effective employee communication during a crisis.
To the extent possible, offer facts instead of false reassurances to your employees that will in turn make a huge difference. If you decide to keep your employees in the dark, they might assume the worst and fill in the gaps on their own. Avoid this fundamental mistake by keeping them in the loop, preferably a little before the last minute to gain that much needed trust.
Use different channels of communication at disposal
When hit with a crisis situation, you should use both virtual media as well as more conventional, face to face communication. Keep reminding your employees of the best places to find the most accurate and up-to-date information from the management.
Be mindful of how the management is behaving with the employees. It’s very important for you to be sensitive with the employees when dealing with crisis situations. Try to establish some sort of a messaging hotline to keep each other updated.
Any piece of information that is shared externally, should be distributed internally as well, with accuracy and factual correctness. Try to give all the information to your employees and most importantly, seek counsel if required.
Learn from the crisis
It is wise to conduct a survey post crisis, to ensure if the employees felt that communications were effective, multi-dimensional, and candid or not. This will help the seniors in the top management to implement the changes as per required.
Communicate decisions quickly
As soon as you have made your decisions, tell your employees. If they understand your decisions, and the reasons for them, you are likely to get more support from their end. Before spreading your word externally, make sure you convey it internally.
After the storm has subsided, make sure that you and your employees get back to ‘usual business’ as soon as you can, starting with a clean slate and learning from the mistakes that you had made the last time.