The COVID-19 outbreak has left business leaders with unprecedented pressures to share prompt information and corresponding action plans.
Is this an issue that has only reared its head in the last few months? No. Although clear communication and transparency are crucial in times of crisis, it is a culture that should be fostered year-round. Honest and open communication in good times, leads to efficient and clear results in the bad.
Studies show about 50% of workers don’t feel they are given all the facts and information needed to be successful in their jobs. No one likes feeling like they’re not “in the loop” particularly when the topics, discussions, and decisions have a direct impact on their livelihood, role, career or motivations for being there.
Lacking transparency will mean lower trust, poorer problem-solving and unrealized potential that can be very costly to your organization. To support the evolution of your business, here are a few things to consider …
Be very clear about accountabilities, starting top-down. The best performing teams have players in the right positions and know the game they’re playing. In a sporting analogy, is your culture more collaborative (basketball), systematic (football) or specialized (baseball)? Do your players need to be able to sub in as needed elsewhere?
For more on this, be sure to read this article by Inc CEO Jim Schleckser about quantifying your workplace culture.
As a game, we also need to agree on scorekeeping. This means clarifying the measures that indicate success in reviewing them regularly and openly, bottom-up. As leaders we can also choose to be more forthright with organizational results, radically opening things traditionally not shared, discussing where we’re winning, stagnating or falling down.
When core activities for all positions are understood, have effective training, support and defined processes to establish competency, you’re standing on solid footing.
The other foundational piece centers on behaviors. Modeling and reflecting the value statements when either upheld or contradicted will go far. You can really bring reinforcement by highlighting shining examples to act as references to everyone.
If you can connect these dots effectively, it will bring higher engagement, ownership, and empowerment.
Our most trusted sense as humans is our vision. Many know the saying “a picture is worth a 1000 words” and research shows visualized goals actually improve odds of achieving them.
As leaders, we always have to bring this context, answering and enlisting our teams to a single question: What does good look like?
You firstly need to see it and then you need to bring it to life. Reference the vision in key meetings, relate it to business goals, and use it as a filter to test whether a planned action is inside or outside the box.
Vision implies something you can see right? So make your vision visual – draw or collect images into a collage, create a collaborative document, or make a video. The point is finding creative ways to illustrate the direction.
No doubt there can be a lot of discomfort in here as people see things differently. That’s good, it’s entirely the point! To align and form a unified line of sight is a process, and will raise important issues which lead to …
One of the biggest obligations as leaders is just this. I’m not talking about putting out the everyday fires, but rather the larger obstacles that get in the way, such as shifting business models, absent skillsets or people, ways of working, silos or lacking value chains.
The key is doing so quickly, but with a strong strategic thinking mindset, not rushing to solutions. This means inviting stakeholders across the workplace to bring information, share ideas and more and open the doors. The responsibility of clearing obstacles doesn’t just solely lie on you, however, creating an environment where people feel comfortable to take part, does.
In the end, it’s about overcoming challenges and the underlying emotions that form barriers. I heard a simple, relevant quote the other day: “People don’t resist change, they fear loss”.
Coming back to the current climate, the International Labour Organization predicts almost 25 million jobs could be lost worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Loss is currently on people’s minds and change is without a doubt coming. Through thoughtful and transparent communication, elevate trust with your team so that you can face these changes head-on within a thriving workplace.
For a more in-depth read of change management, read IC Thrive’s VP of operations, Marcelo Orellana’s piece on creating a culture of change.
For lighter changes, such as if your organization recently started working remotely due, here are some remote working best practices to get you going. Once set up, here’s some advice to create a virtual environment that encourages collaboration and participation.