4 eradicate uncertainty underestimate the importance

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4. Eradicate uncertainty Underestimate the importance of effective employee communication during a crisis and you may suffer significant economic damage due to, among other factors, a lack of trust, low morale and the subsequent loss of trained and dedicated employees. In a crisis situation, it’s necessary to increase the internal communication frequency since employees have a high demand for updated information as well as the desire to provide continuous feedback. Ask these questions before communicating with employees during a crisis and as part of the post-crisis evaluation and ongoing crisis preparedness planning: What is the desired outcome of the communication? What will be communicated? Who will initiate the communication? Which groups of employees will be communicated with? How and / or where is the communication going to happen? When will the communication take place? Ask these questions after communicating with employees during a crisis and as part of the post- crisis evaluation and ongoing crisis preparedness planning: Was the communication objective met? How can we do better? 34
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5. Tackle employees’ questions Employees’ questions and concerns should be anticipated, identified and responded to on an ongoing basis. Because employees’ trust in management’s ability to handle the crisis is crucial, even those questions and concerns that seem unimportant or inconvenient should be addressed. Especially in cases where the company may be responsible for any harm to employees and their loved ones, consider communicating regret and empathy as well as a clear explanation of the steps the company is taking to deal with the situation and to prevent recurrences. However, don’t base the messages on the views of management alone. Be sure to take into account the perceptions, opinions and expectations within the different stakeholder groups. Also bear in mind any legal and other restrictions on the dissemination of certain information relating to the crisis. 6. Create communication allies Don’t forget that employees have a vested interest in working with management to prevail over the crisis – many are eager to put in extra time and effort to turn the ship around. Guide employees in their effort to speak up for the company. Empowering employees to take charge in times of crisis creates valuable communication allies who reinforce messages internally and also carry them into the community. Remember that despite the wealth of technology at the disposal of today’s communicator, face- to-face communication between supervisors and their direct reports remains one of the most effective tools. 7. Be consistent in messaging With the goal of coherent messages and simultaneous communication in mind, many companies implement a one-voice-policy: It means only appropriately trained and designated employees, who are electronically linked with senior management and one another, may act as company spokespersons.
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