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Leadership

5 Messages leaders need to share during times of uncertainty

As we confront the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as issues of systemic racism, your team needs leadership that’s not only paying attention, but sharing their perspective.

By 

 — August 5th, 2020

5 Messages leaders need to share during times of uncertainty

Leaders need to step up and communicate right now.

But what messages should leadership be sharing? What are the important topics to touch on as your team adjusts to a new normal? Today, we’re sharing 5 messages leadership needs to share during times of uncertainty.

Remember– no matter your message, you should be sharing it with “gloves off” authenticity. This is not a time to step back, but rather a time to lean into the discomfort of the current moment.

"Gloves off’ authenticity is being personal, being human, and being candid in your communication. This means sharing how you’re doing, telling employees the steps you’re taking to show up for them, and expanding on developments as they unfold – Kirstin Browne, Director at ROI Communications

How to communicate change in difficult times

Here are some messages that leaders should consistently share:

1. How health & safety are being addressed and prioritized

Employees are concerned about their health and safety. Whether your entire workforce is at home or you’re having employees come into work, you need to provide consistent communications about how you’re prioritizing their health and safety.

Here are some things to cover:

  • General health policy changes
  • Policies for the workplace, such as mandatory mask-wearing
  • Information on local testing facilities
  • Reminders and updates on health insurance benefits, such as video visits
  • General safety resources that can help employees protect themselves and their families

2. How the business is doing & any policy changes

It’s essential to let employees know how the business is doing, as well as any policy changes. Your employees are worried about the future. Any information you can have to help them plan ahead will be much appreciated.

Many employees are concerned about losing their jobs. While you may not be able to guarantee that you can keep everyone on, you should provide updates on how the business is doing. Otherwise, employees will be left to guess and make assumptions, which can poison company culture.

Similarly, you need to constantly update your team on any policy changes. For example, as a result of working from home during this period, companies like Twitter and – have decided to go remote forever. Employees will have a lot of questions, so the leadership at Twitter needs to provide clear, comprehensive information about this policy change.

3. The “how” of re-opening

Your team wants to know when and how you’ll re-open your operations. After all, their lives have been upended by working from home and they’re curious what the future holds. Will they go back to the office? If so, will they be kept apart and wear masks? Will capacity remain the same?

Even if you don’t know exactly how you’ll re-open your offices or if you ever will, fill employees in on what you’re thinking about. Perhaps you know that employees will continue to work from home for the next several months, and can share when you’ll be reassessing.

4. A reminder of values and action plan for seeing them through

Sharing your values is particularly important at a time when there’s a spotlight on racial injustice. When it comes to values around diversity and inclusion, employees want to know where you stand. What are you doing to create a more equitable workplace?

It’s not enough to simply state that Black Lives Matter. You also need to share an action plan for how you’ll work to make your workplace a more equitable place. Otherwise, the words seem empty.

5. A vision for the “other side”

It’s hard to feel hopeful when it feels like this period will go on forever, so if you have a vision for how things will look afterwards, share them. For example, some companies are proclaiming that they won’t ever require everyone to be in the office. Others fully attend to go back to having a full office when they can.

Whatever your vision, share it when the time is right. It will give employees hope for what the future holds.

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