Be transparent in both external and internal communications
We’ve all seen the criticism levied at some celebrity business owners for their decision to put employees on the government funded furlough scheme. A number have since backtracked, but whatever your opinion on the subject, there’s no denying businesses will make mistakes during tough times and the key is how it’s handled in the aftermath.
People appreciate honesty. If you’ve made a mistake, recognise this and take responsibility. If you are facing criticism that you feel is unfair, try to put yourselves in the shoes of your customer or staff members. Has something been miscommunicated? Perhaps you’re not thinking about why people are upset – effectively communicating empathy is important.
Remember that tone can vary dependent on whether your method of communication is written or verbal so it’s always best to think about how something sounds different in writing or when spoken. Ask someone trusted who is outside of the situation if they understand what you’re trying to say and what sentiment they took from it.
In the current climate, people have different worries and are experiencing life differently. You may not understand the challenges being faced by communities or staff but they won’t expect you to have all the answers. Showing that you care during difficult times goes a long way. If you are speaking to different segments of your customer base or different departments in a business, tailor the content accordingly. A one size fits all approach doesn’t work.
Stick to the point
It can be easy to skirt around difficult communications, but sometimes there’s no easy way to relay information such as business closures. Stress how difficult decisions may be and justify why you may need to make them but stick to the point. People need to understand what you’re saying, why you’re saying it and importantly what it means for them.
Offer a route for discussion
Whether you’re sending out an internal email or an update to customers remember to tell them how they can get in touch. Inviting comments and opinions shows you care and offers vital feedback on how effective your communications are.
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