In Times of Uncertainty, Overcommunicate
As leaders, it's our responsibility to communicate proactively. Each instance of communication we provide for our team helps fill in their gaps, frame anxieties with data, and reassures those who depend on us that there's someone at the wheel (even if you feel like that wheel is attached to a roller coaster out of your control).
A few ways to approach your responsibility to over-communicate:
Think through what some concerns or anxieties would be of those who work alongside you. I have found that writing your own FAQ that directly addresses those concerns is a helpful way to embody the anxieties of others. Even if your response is "I don't know yet, but I'm keeping an eye on it," you're signaling that you're attuned to the emotional needs of your team.
Provide a consistent forum to communicate. If you're suddenly managing a distributed team, be sure you've got a regular cadence of meetings (Zoom works well for this) where you can open the floor for questions. Even if the news is terrible, it's far better to address it baldly than hide in silence. Remember that absent context, people will arrive at their own conclusions, and those conclusions will rarely be accurate.
Invite data to the party. What information can you provide your team to help frame the current reality in a broader context? It's one thing to answer a question with your opinion; it's another to answer a question with data. Do what you can to pepper your communication with numbers. But be careful: in times of crisis and uncertainty, data is cold comfort. Let empathy and heart be the main course, and let data be the seasoning.
[As an aside: It's common for small businesses to either
a) not have confidence in their business data,
b) not understand what the data is attempting to communicate, or
c) not have a framework to have the data inform their strategy.
If this is you, reach out. I can help.]
The quality of a leader is seen in sharp relief during times of uncertainty and risk. Now is your time to shine.
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At Trellis Group, we believe chaos is the enemy of the small business. It's our mission to partner with small business owners and their teams to develop the managerial practices and processes to crush chaos. Revenues go up, anxiety goes down, and work becomes a force multiplier for good in the lives of your people. Reach out to discover how the Trellis Group can help you crush chaos.