Connecting with Employees During Critical TimesCagrus
Communication with employees, particularly those who are spread out over a large geographical area, becomes even more challenging during times when there is a critical need to get information out quickly! Let’s go over how to communicate information to employees efficiently, effectively, and accurately.
One of the most frequent concerns raised by teams and individuals through employee surveys revolves around communication: frequency, timeliness, and relevance are three of the most often heard aspects. The average employee wants to do a good job and they require their employer to provide them the tools to be able to take pride in the work that they do.
When coming up against an unforeseen circumstance, it is important to have a communication strategy in place to assist in meeting these challenges head on and helping everyone involved in moving forward through to resolution.
There are many components of an effective 2-way communication plan, such as how to involve and engage leadership and creating opportunities for gathering and assimilating feedback. To get the ball rolling, to follow are a number of components in an effective outgoing, “employee focused” plan, which are included as a foundation for an effective overall employee communications strategy:
Plan Ahead and be Prepared
When under time pressures, it is key to get the right communication out, complete with full and accurate information. The thing about a critical incident is it is most likely unplanned and often comes at the most inopportune time (as if there ever is a right time!). Drafting templates of what is to be sent out is desired, although it is difficult to anticipate all combinations and permutations of scenarios, is one of the starting points for getting the right information out.
Practice Makes Perfect (or at Least a Little Less Scary)
Having a crisis or critical incident policy in place ensures that there is a reference point for how to handle difficult situations. The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies to so many aspects of our personal and professional lives.
Astronauts in the space program talk about overcoming the fear associated with something go-ing wrong in space. The most common response is that they practice, practice, practice. Becoming familiar with every scenario alleviates the fear and helps them push beyond to be able to respond appropriately, ultimately saving their (and their fellow team member’s) lives.
When it comes to how to communicate information to employees, making preparedness a part of the plan ensure a greater likelihood of a successful reception and response.
Talking to Employees is Job #1
No matter what the scenario a company is dealing with, it is important that employees are the first to be communicated with – before any external parties. This is VITAL – ensure employees don’t hear of negative news from external sources first. Confusion may alienate employees and hinder efforts for a successful critical incident response and recovery.
Employees who are communicated with in an open, timely and truthful manner may go on to be the strongest advocates and champions to supporting an organization’s goal – not just internally but externally as well.
Wipe-out and Eliminate Uncertainty
During a stress laden or unplanned situation, employees have a need for more frequent and up-dated information, as well as a desire to able to give feedback.
Are you ready to learn more about how to communicate information to employees? Some of the questions that can be asked about before, during, and after communications can include:
- What is the desired outcome of the communication?
- What will be communicated?
- Who will start/distribute the communication?
- Which groups of employees will receive the communication?
- How/where is the communication going to happen?
- When will the communication take place?
Always important is an effective postmortem, after the communication has taken place, to continually review for improvements.
- Was the communication objective met?
- How effective was it?
- How can we do better?
A Consistent Message gets Through
In order to alleviate selective hearing – and facilitate clear thinking – during high stress, emotional, time pressured and high stimulation periods, many companies are seeking or implement a one-voice policy. What that means is only appropriately trained and specifically designated employees are able to acts as spokespersons or to access communication tools.
It is also important that those affected are informed as close to the same time as possible, closing the gap on when innuendo and rumors can happen. It is in the absence of “knowing” that the chatter happens. Our brains have a tendency to fill in gaps (perceived or actual). Making the credible source of information come from as few originators as possible is key to minimizing the destruction that uninformed gossip can wreak.
Consider External Help when Learning How to Communicate Information to Employees – No Organization is an Island
This type of communicating is not limited to a crisis or a critical need. There are many scenarios in which this type of communication can assist organizations across sectors and industries; bridge geographical boundaries; relate to various sizes of organizations and at different stages of their life cycle. For example, communicating to employees about the impact of adverse weather conditions (snow, hurricanes, floods) that impact opening hours; reminders of closures or amended opening hours due to upcoming statutory holidays; or special events either internally or externally that impact employees and how they do their job. Accessing resources such as Cagrus Absence Solutions compliments what you are doing with face to face and alternate communication tactics. Cagrus can be a resource for supplementing your resources, can provide a boost to your communication plan and be at your fingertips 24 hours/day, 365 days/year!