By Smarp's Chairman, Pedro Ros -
None of us predicted a few months ago that we would be in this situation: a virus stopping the world as we once knew it. Governments have asked us to stay at home, whilst very brave people are fighting for us in hospitals and care homes; ensuring sustained critical services throughout this pandemic.
Leadership communication during these difficult times will prove itself to be challenging, as under these unpredictable circumstances we are now forced to navigate a new and profoundly different way of living.
In my role as Chairman of Smarp, I’m tasked with guiding our enterprise employee communications platform into revenue growth and international expansion. In times like these, it starts with taking care of the safety and wellbeing of our employees.
Here are three golden rules I believe every leader should incorporate into their employee communications during a crisis to mitigate business and health concerns:
1. Show empathy
Leaders and management may have more information, but people at home are confused and uncertain about their companies and about their own professional future. Along with their commitment to employees’ physical wellbeing, it is also crucial that companies take into consideration their employees’ mental wellbeing, and take visible steps to demonstrate that consideration.
It is the leader’s job to understand and listen to how employees feel during a difficult time such as this in order to create a positive and supportive atmosphere.
2. Be clear and transparent
Employees want clarity on everything related to how the virus is affecting their colleagues and the organisation, along with advice on health, travel policies and other practical matters.
Your people prefer to know from you what the situation of the company is and what you are doing to manage its future during this challenging period. Being clear and transparent about where you stand in this regard will strengthen credibility and confidence.
3. Show trust and empower your people
You obviously trust your people, now it’s time to put that trust into action.
Remind them that everyone has to fight their corner, but should do so as part of a team that will keep the company functioning. This will be done by continuing to serve clients, not because there is a commercial interest but because they are your partners and they need help too.
Never forget to recognise what your employees are doing for the company and thank them for their unconditional support.
We have never had to face a situation like this or live the way we have been advised to now, so it is crucial to understand that people will remember how we, as leaders, acted during these times. Our attitude and actions towards our employees, clients and other stakeholders will play a major role in maintaining a positive working environment, and building strong relationships for the future.
Pedro Ros, Smarp's Chairman, has 25 years of international experience notably as CEO of TNS (WPP) and CEO of Wilmington plc.