BLOG - November 2020
How to communicate as a leader during a crisis
The pandemic has created a new normal, one that has taken over our lives irrevocably. With entire countries going into lockdown again, working from home may have paved the way for many people but it hasn’t been without its disadvantages. The corporate culture that creates a sense of belonging is not that easy to engender when employees are separated by screens, face a drastic reduction in socializing with coworkers, and have to deal with a continuous inflow of communication, all alone, causing mental hardship and stress.
With the corporate world in flux and economy injured, company leaders and CEOs need to adapt their communication in order to motivate and engage their employees and create a nurturing ecosystem that gives a sense of belonging in this socially distant world. Whether it is employees or stakeholders, they all look to the CEO for guidance and leadership and with the right communications strategy, CEOs can motivate employees and be remembered as strong leaders in the coming age. We suggest some communication strategies you can use to become an empathetic leader and steer your stakeholders through this tough time.
- Become transparent – Transparency at the workplace is always a win-win but it has never been as important as it is right now. Home-offices have ensured that the regular channels of information for employees have been disrupted. There is a lot of misinformation and doubts in the minds of employees. CEOs actively need to offer information about the company’s financial health, how the business is coping with the crisis and steps they are taking to ensure the wellbeing of their workforce. Open communication from the leadership also encourages a healthy ecosystem where employees can voice their fears, give feedback and suggestions. But more importantly, it keeps them engaged and fosters a sense of belonging which lowers the rate of employee attrition, demotivation and increases loyalty.
- Talk about mental health– When the management makes the effort to ask employees how they are doing, especially regarding their mental health, it shows that they care. Use your own experience, create digital platforms and communicate about the importance of work-life balance and destressing. Right now, as there are preparations for another impending lockdown, managers and CEOs need to be proactive in motivating with positive messaging, asking questions, instead of delegating this job to the HR department. By opening the door to conversations with employees about any concerns they have, CEOs show their humanistic side and connect better with them.
- Be optimistic and confident – Many CEOs have had to double down as Chief Crisis Officers during this difficult time but it’s certainly not easy to be optimistic during a crisis when everyone is looking up to them for leadership at difficult times. Thus, it becomes imperative that they remain positive and motivated in their communication. Employees burdened with drastic changes need stronger, positive messaging.
- Show empathy – Right now, many CEOs are feeling isolated in the midst of this crisis, as they are unable to reach out to their teams physically but they are staying connected over work calls and zoom meetings. While tackling their own vulnerability, they still have to be empathetic towards their employees because there is a lot of uncertainty around jobs and the general confusion of the pandemic. By showing empathy and that they care, CEOs can vastly reduce anxiety among employees and forge a lasting bond with them.
- Create alternate channels of communication - To build trust and foster motivated employees, it’s important to rethink communication channels in your company with all stakeholders. Alternate digital platforms where employees can directly interact with the company leadership, asking them important questions or channels of social interaction across teams. Companies need new structures of information flow in this socially distant world. As a CEO you need to develop a strategic communications plan that uses the best practices of communication to build an alternative solutions-oriented communication structure to take everyone through this uncertain time.
Consistent communication especially during a pandemic-induced lockdown can help abate fears and reduce mental health crises among employees. Everyone is looking to CEOs for leadership and by espousing these values, they can ensure that they have stepped up to the challenges lying ahead.
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