Absent of clear information, people generally presume the worst. Therefore, in time of change or crisis, it is good to over-communicate with facts, as well as contextual information.
Unfortunately, it is during these times of change that leaders are buried in the day-to-day and communicate the least. Often, unsure of next steps or too wrapped up in effecting change, we are hesitant and forgetful to be transparent with information.
So, clearly, it is when we need to communicate the most that we communicate the least, causing a crisis situation that further spiral out of control.
Here are some communication priorities during such times:
- Address the situation at hand with frankness. By speaking clearly and realistically, you as a leader can build credibility that the situation is truly being recognized.
- Put the current situation in context of the bigger picture. Usually, change causes both progress and pain. Both needs to be understood in context.
- Clearly outline a plan to address the current situation. Let people know that there is a plan in place and the leadership team is being proactive to remedy the situation. Also, a clear plan dismisses unhealthy rumors that arise.
- Recognize people’s efforts during the change. Some great talent rises to the top during such times. Re-enforce the attitude, behavior and efforts of such people.
- Walk everyone to the “light at the end of the tunnel”. Hope is eternal.
- Communicate more than you think you should.