When a crisis hits, many companies turn their attention outwards. Understandably, business leaders spend time crafting external messages and planning for ongoing communication to clients, partners, and other external stakeholders. Equally important, business leaders need to craft plans for nurturing and strengthening internal relationships through ongoing communications.
During this global pandemic, teams far and wide find themselves suddenly working from home, requiring new virtual checkpoints to maintain organizational alignment. As you make plans for what comes next, consider the importance of creating new two-way communication strategies with each of your team members.
Together, outline a specific communication plan with each team member, determining mutual expectations during this time period. Discuss desired outcomes, performance metrics and methods for reinforcing positive accountability. Remember to include time to check-in on a more personal side and don’t feel pressured to jump right to business. Be intentional about lending an ear and listening closely to help people feel heard, understood, valued, and connected.
Next, determine a check-in frequency that will promote productive discussion. Incorporate key coaching questions into your check-ins. These questions can draw out experiences in detail versus just revealing final outcomes.
Finally, help your team members create a change plan. Encourage team members to take it slowly at first and help them continue to refine their efforts. Through these steps, you want to build successes early and often with small tasks that are easy to quickly accomplish. As a guide, you can encourage team members to make modifications to their environment, self-monitor their accomplishments, and make continued commitments to upcoming tasks and projects.
Effective coaching questions are key to the ongoing communication process. When team members believe that their work and role are important, and that they are adding value, they become more invested in the organization’s mission. Here are coaching prompts to incorporate:
- Discuss the value their projects are bringing to business outcomes and results
- Provide feedback or suggestions that will assist with making their efforts easier or more effective
- Create an opportunity to share client interactions that they would like to highlight
- Ask for examples of the day-to-day improvements that they have made to the way they organize their workspace, their time, their to do lists, or their priorities. Focus on what’s worked and what challenges they have faced
- Ask what changes they have made since the last check-in call that have had a positive impact on their work-from-home situation
- Demonstrate active listening by paraphrasing back to them what you heard them share
- Ask for input on the value of check-in meetings and plans. Discuss what is working and be prepared to adjust the plan based on their feedback
While no one can control this pandemic, business leaders can control how they communicate with their teams throughout this crisis. Doing so will reinforce relationships and strengthen long-term trust in the company. And that will be one more crisis averted.
This blog was authored by Ken Wagner, Ph.D. Ken translates human potential into business success to drive profitability, operational excellence, employee engagement, and leader performance. His deep subject matter expertise in leader development, behavioral science, motivation, learning, and systems analysis has given him highly diverse understanding across a broad spectrum of private and public industries ranging from complex, multi-national organizations to specialized boutique companies, in more than 20 countries, across 6 continents.