6 min read
The opinions of the employees of You are personal.
- Simplify your message
- Correct communication time
- Reduce the noise
- You need to know that words matter.
Just as we were getting used to the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, we experienced a second pandemic: social unrest due to growing anger at systemic racism. Difficult issues like racism require introspection and business response, and there have been a variety of responses to these issues. Consumer demands are changing and as business owners we need to share what we are doing to address the double pandemic between social problems and the coronavirus.
Businesses face challenges related to reopening or reconnection plans. In addition to polarizing the political discourse about conflicting data from different sources, there are constantly changing social norms. Double pandemics have led companies to make unprecedented but necessary operational changes. The ground trembles under our feet.
s, our employees and our customers have all grown tired. Together we long to get “normal” again, but we are not sure when or if this is possible.
Whether you are a small business owner, entrepreneur, or CEO of a multinational organization, the key to maintaining trusting relationships with employees, customers, and the communities you serve is good communication skills. Through effective communication, you can calm the storm, demonstrate leadership-level changes in behavior, strengthen values, and set new cultural norms.
Behavioral research gives us insights into how we can improve the quality of our communication. As a business owner, you need to evaluate how to communicate more effectively if you want employees to react differently.
Here are four ways to communicate more effectively:
1. Simplify your message
Photo: Austin Distel via Unsplash
We live in a microwave society with short attention spans and noises. The 24 hour news cycle moves at the speed of light. The complexity of your messages has a significant impact on whether or not you land well. Be direct. Stay away from technical jargon. When looking for action, be sure to be clear and precise about the “question”. Sharing written information with titles makes it easier to read. Make key points bold, use bullet points for information lists, and repeat critical points for emphasis. Plan to use Hashtags to ensure the specificity and clarity of the intended use.
2. Correct the communication time
Effective communication is timely. Get in the habit of communicating early and often. This early action enables you to get in touch with people and make them part of those actions. There is a risk that too much is communicated too early and too little too late.
Jumping too early without adequate information can create fear, increase anxiety, or encourage apathy among stakeholders. Conversely, communication too late can create an environment that fosters resentment, suspicion, and real confusion.
People are more receptive to communication when they can participate or take action. Providing a mechanism for asking questions or providing feedback is an easy way to do this. You can improve trust and transparency by involving employees early on in the problem-solving process. Doing this in a conversational format, even if it is a group or community conversation, is the best way to go.
Break down complex processes or multi-year efforts into smaller, more manageable defined phases that matter to your audience. When people are committed to something smaller, they are more likely to say yes to bigger challenges in the long run.
3. Reduce the noise
Like executives, entrepreneurs have assumed leadership roles in times of crisis and social transition. In this role, you need to help your employees and customers understand some complex problems, and also how they are affected.
Really successful communication reduces the noise and creates a framework for understanding everything else you are hearing. Enable team discussions about the context of current events, the realities in the real world, and how the company’s commitment to your values is constantly influencing response. This is a great way to get everyone on the same page.
We are increasingly confronted with the discomfort of cognitive dissonance due to contradicting messages. (“We are determined to reopen quickly” but “consumer safety is our number one priority”). As a result, people can simply refuse your words. You can reduce the potential for dissonance through clear and concise messages: “We strive to provide our employees and customers with services in the safest and most efficient way possible.”
4. You need to know that words matter
Words have power. The words spoken by executives can aid or interrupt the development of organizational cultures and behavior. Studies show that language influences behavior.
Photo: Luis Morera via Unsplash
Your communication can benefit from composing messages with the right language and nuances. For example, the media reporting a spike in COVID-19 that “killed 812 people in the past 24 hours” is scarier than the media reporting a “1.14% death rate”.
When expressing changes in the process, policy, or service offering, choose words that promote calm and understanding. It’s a unique moment in the business world. Effective communication is critical to the mission. You can save people’s health and bring social reform and justice to all people.