Tuesday 14th April, 2020 – Sean Lester
Humans want security. People want information. Uncertainty is not favourable. And good leaders are the answer.
Through any crisis, whether it’s related to the business itself, a local or state issue, or a pandemic such as Covid19 staff want accurate communication. Sure, everyone wants job security, to maintain 100% of their wage, enjoy their daily creature comforts and stick to the lane they’re most suited in, but communication allows them to make informed decisions. The longer the days pass with unanswered queries, and then weeks become fortnights and months, the stress of uncertainly takes a spiralling toll. It’s now not about how the business will respond to Covid19, but “why I am more valuable than both Jim and Sandy” and “will my hours be reduced or cut altogether”. This can be knocked on the head straight away.
KISS is (ironically) a simple acronym as people work through Covid19. For most, Covid19 is complex with each council, state and country employing different measures, and each health expert interviewed providing a slightly different response to what we can (as a general population) expect. All staff ask of employers is to keep the information simple for the layman. Don’t provide hypothetical options, just provide clear statements about the situation as it stands and how the business is responding. Further queries can be asked on an individual basis. To be active in sourcing information and what this means for your employees, shows a care about those within your business.
Staff see their employers as leaders already, given the hierarchical nature of any business. An unfortunate virus provides an opportunity for good leaders to rise to the fore. By being proactive in seeking information, clearly communicating that to employees (as individuals and in teams) and showing genuine personal care is leadership. Leadership inspires a response. Good leaders will engage their staff to continue meeting expectations despite the chaos around them, whereas lesser leaders create more questions than they provide answers.
Even with bad news people want to know. The reality is not all business are able to continue trading, support staff or guarantee employees a future role if a layoff is required. Being honest and clear in the bad messages is still what people want. Better they find out now so they can begin to plan, than to build their molehill concerns into a mountain, and then struggle with the news a fortnight down the track.
People watch the weather forecast so they can prepare. If the weather will cause chaos at least they can bunker down, and the same formula applies here. Knowledge is power, genuine individual concern is invaluable, and inspiring people to pull together in the same direction is likely to see the most energetic response once the pandemic passes.