Communicating with your staff

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How to Communicate Effectively with your Staff in Times of Crisis – Covid -19

Communication is the backbone of every company but is even more important at a time of crisis. While a lot of companies focus on communicating with their customers, your priority needs to lie first and foremost with your staff the reasons being 1. to protect them against heightened stress and panic and 2. they are often in direct communication with your customers.

Given the sheer volume of information out there and the speed at which it is being updated it is understandable that staff are confused and concerned. So as managers, business owners and leaders it is important to clarify information, separate facts from the fiction and provides clear guidance to your staff.

While you may not have all the answers, your key objective is to prevent the spread of misinformation across the organisation. You need to ensure you are directing your employees to official sources of information and facts for example government publications only.

Keep the channels of communication open. Information and government decisions are frequently being updated so ensure you have a strong and effective channel to communicate up-to-date information with your staff as soon as it becomes available.

Direct your staff to one secure channel internally e.g. email, Slack, Teams etc. And ensure every member of staff has access to this platform.

Set up an internal crisis management team consisting of decision-makers and people with key crisis management skills. Ensure middle managers are also either at the table or directly and regularly communicated with as they will have the most interaction with staff. * Assign one member of staff as the central point of internal communication. So all information will be streamlined and only come from that point to avoid breakdowns in communication and misinformation.

Ensure all information is written in plain English and avoid jargon.

Keep senior managers/owners visible. In times of uncertainty strong and present leadership is crucial.

In regards to customer-facing staff, ensure they are sharing factual information in a calm manner. Consistency in information is key. Have a FAQ area that staff can direct customers to and ensure it is regularly updated.

The final point is really about listening to your staff. The key to effective communication is listening and this is even more important in a time of crisis. Allow staff to express their concerns and provide answers and reassurance where possible. Communication is a two-way process.

If you find you are struggling to maintain effective communication within your organisation contact Lorraine here