Five top tips for talking to your people during a crisis
A practical guide for leaders and managers.
Instead of adding to the panic over the COVID-19 situation, I want to do something to help leaders and business owners. So here are my five top tips for helping you communicate with your people during a crisis.
My top five tips for communicating with your people during a crisis.
It’s good to talk
The first rule in any crisis is; talk to your people. Usually this would be face-to-face and in person, but this is becoming increasingly challenging with the COVID-19 outbreak. Instead set up video or audio conferencing, live stream a video message or post a pre-recorded video on your intranet for your people to watch. They’ll appreciate seeing and hearing from you, rather than just reading words in an email.
2. Give regular updates Commit to a plan of giving regular updates and stick to it. Whether you decide to get everyone on a call every morning or record a video message a couple of times a week, pick a rhythm that works for you and your audience, and let them know. Sticking to your publicised plan, whatever the message, will assure and increase confidence in your actions.
3. Have a single source of truth Whether it’s a page on your intranet, a channel on Microsoft Teams / Yammer or your company Facebook page, pick a place where everyone can go for regular updates, and make sure they know about it. This should be your one source of truth for information where all updates are posted. Consider too if people can access this information if they have to work from home.
4. Don’t have an answer yet? That’s ok Your people will trust and respect you more if you’re straight with them and tell them you don’t know. Furthermore, they don’t expect you to have all of the answers - this is unchartered waters for us all. Honesty is the best policy, always.
5. Look after each other Working through a crisis is hard, especially when your team may be experiencing anxiety, worrying about sick loved ones or having to care for others. Not to mention the additional stress, workload and potential financial pressure a crisis may put them under. Take time to look up, ask people how they are doing. Strongly encourage regular breaks and make sure everyone gets enough rest, including you.