“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.”
In the past ten days I have had numerous conversations with leaders on how to navigate the response to their workforce, clients, vendors and suppliers on the coronavirus. Whether or not you think there is a need for alarm does not matter, what matters is your employees, co workers or clients may have strong concerns.
Here are few common communication practices to use to support your team and customers during this time:
1. Listen – Don’t discount their fears or anxieties – seek to understand what they know, their questions, and concerns.
2. Learn – Educate yourself through reliable sources to share the relevant facts and science you have discovered on the topic.
3. Engage – Collaborate with your team, management, peers and leadership to define a “Plan B” or “Recovery Plan” should the situation impact your employees, supply chain, or clients.
4. Educate – Create a safe and healthy place to work by educating and sharing real time information on how to stay well. Create an internal team to vet viable resources and information.
5. Multi Scenario Plan – Look at the situation objectively and identify creative options to get work doneproductively should the virus come to your workplace. People need a plan and they want to feel safe.
6. Open the Channels – Keep the channel of communications open between you and your staff. Encourage open dialogue and good ideas to support each other, the company, and the customers.
7. Consistency – Provide updates every few day based on what you learn from the WHO, CDC or other well-established sources. Share this with your employees at your regular briefings.
8. Truth – No one is a real expert at this time. If you don’t know, let people know as you and/or your response team learn more, you will share in your next update.
If you are genuine and sincere in your communications to create a truthful, transparent and supportive environment….this will make a world of difference to you, your employees and your customers.
People are looking for authentic leaders, be that leader.