Do you listen to your organization?
“The word is half his that speaks, and half his that hears it.” said Michel de Montaigne. The pandemic has forced managers to be very present in the day-to-day of the company and to listen to what is happening. A time of uncertainty, plagued with not very encouraging news, in which teams work remotely, favours corporate culture (if it existed) to quickly dissolve in the processes. And for this reason, it is more necessary than ever to take the pulse of the organization, understand what moves teams, know their doubts and fears, and listen to their needs. We need internal communications.
A few years ago, speaking with an HR manager in the banking sector, he recognized a certain envy towards the marketing departments of companies. “They have defined the type of consumer, they know what they look at on the shelf, the frequency of purchase … We at human resources should have this knowledge of our employees” he explained. “We are an internal marketing department.”
And the need to listen and to understand has increased with the pandemic. So: what do we do? Do we have to work to maintain the culture of the organization or do we turn to short-term solutions to solve problems? Is it possible to be flexible without losing our essence? And most importantly: how to survive when sales drop?
1 First, listen to your teams
The pandemic impacts us very unevenly. There are workers very affected by uncertainty. Some may have even suffered the pain of the health crisis in the first person. Others will be more sceptical and will consider that the alarm created is excessive or will even attribute it to a dark planetary plot.
Do you know what your teams think? A mechanism for continuous listening to teams must be designed to sound the mood of the organization. For example: surveys to determine the level of fear, group calls in which a few minutes are reserved to find out the emotional state, one-to-one calls in which the direct manager can talk informally with his or her colleagues.
2 Bring your organization’s culture to life.
Any decision made in the short term must be understood within the essence of the company. If we just swerve to avoid obstacles, it is very likely that we will lose our team on the way and may end up in the ditch.
Therefore, you should always design an internal communications plan and make corporate culture visible. And make sure that any decision that has to be made to face the current situation is framed in this culture: salary reductions, temoporary lay-offs, divestments …
Remember that visibility is a must for culture to prevail in the organization: it has to be present in most of the company’s actions, and even more so in a remote environment. Communicate, communicate and communicate.
3 Be transparent
Teams will understand those decisions explained transparently much better. When speaking, we must take into account the certainties: what we know that will or will not happen; as well as uncertainties, which must be limited as much as possible. Dull organizations, lacking a strong culture, in which the management team does not assume the leadership that is expected, and the decisions are not communicated as the teams expect, may face a difficult time.
4 A More human communication
Sometimes internal communication has sinned from being overly informative and one-way driven. The communication flow goes from the management to the employees, and information of a rather technical content is provided: schedules, protocols, risk prevention, compliance … Now, you need to connect emotionally with the teams. It is the moment of a more emotional communication. Create spaces and moments that facilitate it.
5 Bring your CEO on stage
At this time, it should be the CEO and the management team who come to the forefront to give the appropriate explanations: This helps generate a higher empathy and credibility for the future. The sense of leadership must be present at all times. At this point, it is convenient to adapt the company’s narrative to the COVID situation, but we will talk about this in another post.
6 Work hard to maintain the reputation of your organization
In difficult times such as these, in which there are temporary or permanent layoffs, it must be taken into account that the reputation of our company depends on all those with whom we interact: including former colleagues. We all know the sad image of the security officer who gives you 10 minutes to collect your belongings in a cardboard box and leave the company without having the chance to say goodbye to your colleagues.
The memory that people who lose their jobs keep of our company is extremely important. Put in place exit protocols to limit the difficulty of the trance, empathize with each person and provide the support you can offer as an organization.