In times of change or uncertainty, organizations need leadership more than ever. That means the quality and amount of communications need to increase.
I used to work for a manager who said, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Times of change are a litmus test for leadership, which means sharing with employees what we know and what we don’t know. This is the time for courageous conversations and straightforward communication. This is the time to talk about how our organizations are well positioned for the future and/or how we’re making changes to set ourselves up for future success. Most important, this is the time to share with employees what we need from them.
Sharing Information You Do Have Is Better Than Not Saying Anything
Clearly, no one has all the answers. But most of us have information and perspective that will be of tremendous value to employees. We’ll never have all the answers, and if we wait, someone is going to speak for us and fill the information vacuum. Then, we have to clean up those toxic messages, and our work is doubly difficult.
When employees are cut off from the big picture, they presume guilt, even in cultures where there’s a tremendous sense of pride and a hearty helping of trust.
What’s more, talking about the state of our business today makes good business sense. A crisis of confidence has the potential to interrupt the focus on engagement and business results. And worst case, it will become a significant distraction at a time when a steady hand at the wheel is needed. We need employees to stay focused. But they can only do this with the right direction and information from their leaders.
Clearly, how leaders handle uncertain times will make the difference between winning trust and meeting goals, or backtracking on hard-earned business results and repairing internal reputation.
How are the quality and quantity of your communications changing during times of uncertainty?
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