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During the pandemic, internal comms has been one of the most powerful tools for business leaders. From regrouping teams across multiple locations and maintaining a positive culture to delivering tricky and sometimes difficult messages efficiently, what was once seen as a ‘nice to do’ for businesses has become a deciding factor in whether employees have felt supported or not during this time.

When times get tough, naturally, many businesses focus outwardly on delivery, and forget that doing a fantastic job for clients or customers is more likely to happen when the team that is delivering it is happy too. Failing to recognise that one directly impacts the other is a dangerous move.

Generally, a happy team
= happy clients

Personally, I’ve had countless conversations with my professional network, friends and family members that have felt let down by their place of work or employer because of the way things have been communicated, or in fact, a lack of communication altogether. My favourite quote (albeit heart breaking in equal measure) from a conversation with someone about whether their job was safe due to coronavirus disruption, is: “I’ve heard more from the CEO of Tesco than I have my own employer – I don’t know whether I’ve got a job.”

First and foremost, regardless of what industry you’re in, your people matter.

Call me totally naïve but this situation is temporary and I’m a strong believer that businesses will find a way to push forward, even if it’s in a slightly different way than we planned at the beginning of the year. With that in mind, what businesses are experiencing is (hopefully) temporary and when we come out of the other side, you are still going to need fantastic people and they will remember how you treated them. How you handle your communications around the coronavirus now, is going to impact your reputation far into the future.

I’m not going to tell anyone how to run their business, or judge the decisions that may have to be made – I know the decisions people are faced with at the moment are really hard – but I implore business leaders to treat their people with respect and be kind.

Communicating effectively to the workforce while some are at home, some are in the office, some are furloughed and some are not, is not easy, but your internal channels should be supporting your efforts.

Here are some short tips on how to improve your internal comms:

DON’T sound too corporate

If you don’t know the answer or reason, don’t add to the speculation

DON’T say nothing

Take control of your story. When businesses fail to communicate, often people fill the vacuum with speculation, untruths and misinformation, most of which causes more distress than necessary

DON’T spam your teams

Make sure your internal communications are well considered, don’t just communicate for the sake of it. If you want your team to stop what they are doing and listen/read what you’re saying, make sure the content is worth it!

DON’T react hastily

It’s much harder to retract a statement or a decision once you’ve announced it, so take your time to make sure your decisions are well thought through and not decided on a whim or out of panic

DO be honest

You can be honest without adding to the stress, you just need to keep your responses factual where possible. Your team will appreciate your honesty

DO take action

Particularly in tough times, your people will want to know what you’re doing about a certain situation. This doesn’t have to be extensive, but it will show that you are being proactive and that you care

DO provide timeframes

You’re more likely to buy yourself some headspace if you let people know when you’re going to update them next or when the next milestone communication will be. This will also avoid further speculation or distress

DO be transparent

Not all messages at the moment are easy to communicate, but providing a clear rationale will help your teams to understand the decisions and the challenges facing you

DO make yourself available

Negativity breads negativity and opening yourself up to either a controlled Q&A or some form of two-way dialogue will help your team feel like you’re listening to them

DO consult your team or advisers

Sometimes it can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, but often opening your options up to your team or wider professional network can provide you with some much needed clarity when making decisions that could change the course of your business or your employees’ lives

DO celebrate your successes

Internal comms shouldn’t just be about conveying tricky messaging across a business, it needs to be so much more than that. It should be a platform to share positive news, success stories and achievements too. Celebrating even the small stuff couldn’t be more important right now

For more information on how to improve your internal communications, get in touch.


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