Communicate openly and regularly
Even if uncertainty cannot be removed, communicating effectively can instill a sense of certainty and support others through navigating the unfamiliar terrain.
The following suggestions explore the four F’s in relation to communication throughout this period:
- Frequent and Fast: Creating a visible presence through regular communication via multiple mediums (virtual meetings, phone calls, emails, etc.) strengthens feelings of connection and inclusion amongst teams. Communicating as soon as you have new information builds trust and credibility.
Finally, getting in touch frequently to enquire about people, rather than just disseminating information, is important for fostering a sense of care amongst colleagues.
- Flexible and Factual: Being realistic rather than speculative is helpful in times of uncertainty. Trust is established by communicating as openly as possible both what is known and what is not yet known.
The temptation is for leaders to provide a sense of certainty and solutions, rather than to simply saying what is true at the time and hold a steady space where those around them can contribute to making sense of the situation together.
It is important to not ‘sugar-coat’ the information or play down the seriousness of the message; this could be perceived at trying to reduce panic., It may result in more confusion and concern when colleagues have to re-adjust to the ‘new’ reality down the track. Communication throughout uncertainty involves flexibility, allowing messages to shift as new information surfaces.
Further resources to explore:
- READ Professor Amy Edmondson, of Harvard Business School, emphasises the value of building trust through transparency and honest communication that acknowledges current challenges
- READ McKinsey explores the most effective means of communicating with teams and stakeholders throughout challenging times
- READ The Clinical Excellence Commission has developed a series of brief information sheets outlining the importance of connecting through transparent, compassionate, inclusive and purposeful communication
- READ The Center for Positive Organizations lists seven communication considerations that help to tailor messaging and create a positive, inclusive culture