Post crisis communication

Dear managers,

Imagine this is your first day at work after the corona lockdown. You have a lot of things on your mind and you are preoccupied with so many different topics: How can you compensate quickly the financial losses to still meet the 2020 targets? How can you make more customers and chase after new orders?  And how can you make still more turnover in order to guarantee your company’s survival?

All your employees are gathered around you, curious what you’ll have to say to them after several weeks of absence. So you tell them everything you have on your mind: everybody has to work even harder, do more hours, invest themselves more than ever so that the organisation can make profit again.

After your first words, you realise that people look startled, irritated. You can see disappointment on their faces. Questions, doubts. You continue your speech and talk about performances, investments etc. and you realize that some people start talking to each other apparently disapproving what you are saying. Some even look angry.

Why is this?

Dear managers, when this is all over, please think twice before you address a speech to your staff. If you want people to be motivated, committed to your company, try to take their point of view first. Try to slip into their shoes in order to better understand their needs, their feelings and their concerns. Only if you know their perception of the situation you can adapt your speech and formulate the message you are delivering because you know exactly what they would need to hear.

The corona crisis has created a real point of no return. No, we can’t just continue as we did before and pretend this all has never happened. Employees need to be reassured – reassured in terms of survival of their company, yes of course. But not only. If there will be a second wave of the disease, will they still be able to stay at home and take care of their children? Will the employer privilege security of the staff over a full order book? And even more important: how will the company position itself post crisis? This is the moment to rethink social and environmental engagement. Will they still produce in Asian countries or relocate production to Europe? Will they invest in social projects serving the society? What will be the position of employees in the company? People are the heart of every organisation. Listen to them, take them into consideration. Let them express themselves, participate in decision making. Let them be creative! You’ll be surprised how many good ideas they will have and how highly motivated and committed they can be if they feel valued. If you do this right, and think thoroughly about what to say to your staff the day X when this is all over, you have the chance to build something new on this basis, with a new regard on everything in a whole new world. Because when this is all over, nothing will be like before.

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