Maintaining Transparency during and after Covid-19
By Josh Williams, Ph.D.
In this time of trouble, leaders need to be more transparent than ever managing the complexities of business. This includes open dialogue about the state of the organization, current challenges, and plans moving forward. Employees are understandably anxious about their health, the well-being of loved ones, and the security of their own jobs. Failure to openly communicate how the organization is navigating these rough waters is a failure of leadership. In some cases, leaders need to simply acknowledge they don’t have all the answers for what’s ahead. They also need to demonstrate they’re doing everything they can with the limited and conflicting information available.
Being transparent is essential but incomplete. Leaders also need to communicate effectively or the message is lost. This includes both what and how information is shared. Leaders should be providing regular updates to employees in webinars, meetings, and individual conversations (or phone calls). The absence of dialogue may signal deeper problems to employees. Leaders need to be clear, consistent, and transparent in messaging.
This simple diagram illustrates the relationship between transparency and communication effectiveness. Leaders with low transparency and poor communication elicit fear in employees. Employees aren’t getting essential information and the reports they get are delivered poorly. In other cases, leaders may present information effectively but neglect to share key details employees need to know. This creates suspicion and doubt. On the other hand, leaders may be open and transparent but ineffective in messaging which simply confuses employees. They want to know where they stand (and where the company stands) during this economic slowdown. Ideally, the leader is both transparent and effective in communication. This includes openly sharing relevant information and doing so in a compassionate way. Tips for transparent and effective communication include:
- Show caring and compassion beyond business needs.
- Be realistic about the challenges ahead.
- Set clear priorities for the immediate future.
- Speak personally about how the virus has impacted you.
- Directly address issues relevant to employees.
- Be more patient with employees’ mistakes due to distraction.
- Show more appreciation and recognition for efforts and accomplishments.
- Be open to new solutions.
- Set up forums for open Q&A. Foster two-way dialogue and answer questions honestly.
- Make time for one-on-one virtual conversations
- Provide important business updates as soon as they’re made available
Improving transparency and messaging will help leaders instill trust in the employees who are counting on them during these times of uncertainty. It will be equally important when this terrible virus is behind us. People have long memories and will remember how you listened and cared during this pandemic.
At Propulo, our focus has always been on safety culture and operational excellence.