Communications has assumed centrestage in the COVID-19 crisis management at most organizations. Be it a government entity, business or a family unit, the role of communications is playing a pivotal role in confidence-building measures.
However, many world leaders have been under public scrutiny for their apathy and unclear communication. Their failures in these testing times to connect with their people can create havoc, as has been evident from events.
Candid at all times
Businesses, in general, are required to have clear and effective communication management. Especially those adversely impacted by the troubles have to stand up to this moment through articulate, clear, and consistent communication.
They also have to provide clients with candid insights about businesses’ ability to meet contractual obligations, and to meet all contingencies, including employees’ wellbeing. Companies have to go the extra mile in this communication management to reassure staff.
However, the most complex is not the internal communications but also the lateral ones between peers. When job security, health, and safety are on top of the minds of most employees, corporate communications need to focus on clear, concise, and consistent information.
It has got to cover challenges and risks related to the market situation and ways to mitigate adversities.
The leadership has to embed the communication strategy through close collaborative exercises. The C-suite, along with the entire vertical leadership from general managers to the lowest leadership tier, have to collaborate with one goal, one mission. There should be consistency in the core messaging, but with more one-to-one interaction than just a routine communication channel.
Keep it direct
Organizations at the macro level have to watch their step in every context related to employee expectations, as small deviations, or inconsistent messaging, can play on their minds. For instance, employees’ worries emanating from job losses or the company’s financial situation are concerns that matter. And the company must address this in an emphatic manner.
It must not just be compassionate, but transparent and tactical. Employees need to have convincing evidence on the company’s resilience and the ability to navigate them through the crisis.
While effective leadership through comprehensive communication and actions provides a solid foundation to build confidence, this exercise would need executives across the entire spectrum to do their part. Organizations must clearly articulate the short- and medium-term objectives o steer the company out of the crisis.
For example, efficiency and productivity criteria must be communicated to employees so that management actions concerning non-performance or redundancies are not misunderstood and raise doubts about its merits.
Definite set of rules
There should be defined criteria of internal communication between the CEO to employees and between C-suite to all the leadership tiers and set within a compassionate framework. At the same time, the leadership quadrant needs to forge a collaborative partnership to execute the plan with employees. And last, the HR department has to cement this strategy.
HR needs to devise more holistic engagement to enhance the company’s reach. With a holistic communication plan, companies need to have a one-to-one interface at regular intervals, broad social media reach, and other innovative measures to reinforcing the bond with employees.
Tariq Chauhan is Group CEO at EFS Facilities Services Group.