Every organization goes through challenging situations, whether it’s a transition in leadership, restructuring, change in business strategy or new ownership. Leaders usually understand the importance of handling these changes thoughtfully, but they struggle with the exact know-how. When that struggle turns into communication missteps, leadership teams can end up looking weak or ineffective and people can lose trust in them.
These tips will ensure a calm, competent and coordinated response by company leadership.
During a difficult situation, it may seem appropriate to focus all of your efforts on the teams or individuals who are directly affected, like if they’re reporting to a new leader or being asked to take on additional responsibilities. However, don’t exclude other employees in the process. They are closely watching the action. Communication with them is important -- transparency builds and sustains trust with everyone.
Employees will look at how you treat their impacted colleagues and form expectations about how you’ll treat them under similar circumstances. Leadership teams that lack clarity or let their messages get clouded by emotion put employees on edge and weaken morale, whereas clear and objective communications build employee confidence and improve their outlook.
These values are what you want others to believe about your company and what you stand for as leaders. They serve as a foundation for everything you speak or write. This approach helps leadership teams communicate consistent, relatable and trustworthy messages to employees and other key stakeholders in the face of any tough situation.
Many companies surround themselves with lawyers, HR specialists and business advisors during challenging situations. While their expertise may be needed, they’re not reputation managers, nor can they advise you on how to improve the quality of leaders’ communications. Engage a qualified professional early before a misstep has you scrambling to retain employees or boost morale.