Communicating Through Crisis: GO VERBAL - Ensuring your employees still feel heard as they work from home

Posted by Walt Brown on Apr 22, 2020 9:15:00 AM

The Coronavirus pandemic is having a crippling effect on many business organizations throughout the world. Within the 7 Question - 7 Promise Framework, perhaps the area most likely to be compromised by the havoc caused by the spread of this virus and its stifling effect on commerce is the ability for your employees to maintain a “yes” answer to the 5th question “Do I feel heard?”

Even under ideal circumstances, having methods in place to ensure that your employees feel heard is challenging. This is because there are so many variables involved with maintaining stable communication channels, channels that (1) effectively transfer meaningful information in (2) a timely fashion that all (3) relevant team members are attendant to, and (4) that permit sufficient two-way communication (5) enabling everyone to speak their mind on important issues facing both the team and the organization.

The answer to the above paragraph is to be sure each meeting that has multiple people in it has a stated objective and agenda.

Yet, with Coronavirus causing many businesses to facilitate the completion of work by employees in household settings in order to maintain some semblance of productivity, several unforeseen obstacles and constraints have been imposed on the workforce, and many of them have interfered with communication practices. As such, for many organizations, additional hurdles have been inserted between the question “Do I feel heard?” and an employee’s “yes” response, like the drastic reduction of in-person, face-to-face contact, or even the added presence of children in the background during screen-to-screen communication, as the Coronavirus has jeopardized school attendance as well.

Sadly, one of the easiest ways for team members to grow frustrated and disillusioned is for those in leadership not to grant them the ability to reciprocate and respond candidly when expectations and goals for performances are set. With unfortunate circumstances causing more people than ever to retreat behind computer screens located within home offices, it is of vital importance that lines of communication remain as open as the situation permits. This is one way to make sure your employees feel as if they are heard.

Super simple solution. If in doubt, pick up the phone, make a call, go verbal. While the video conference is wonderful, in the busy household with privacy issues and just tons of background noise, just going to the tried and true telephone call, stepping outside, going for a walk, finding private space where you can speak, use your voice, go verbal one to one will make a huge impact.

Despite the convenience of email communication, there is no replacement for face-to-face contact, even if conversing through a computer screen is the best alternative option you can commit to as we all strive to limit the spread of Coronavirus. Making the effort to commit to interactive communication allowing you to read one another’s body language is a vast improvement over emails in terms of making sure your employees feel they have been heard.

Finally, naming meetings is an essential mechanism for directing the language and setting the expectations for communication within your organization, because the names of the meetings help team members to understand what the purposes of the meetings are, how they should expect to be heard, and how their contributions to the meetings will help to fulfill the objectives of the organization. Due to obvious health concerns, many companies have done away with meetings requiring every essential team member to be in the same room, but teleconferences and other suboptimal methods of “meeting” should still be guided by a title and a theme in order to maximize the quality of employee input. This helps everyone to understand their roles in the meeting and the value of their contributions to your organization’s mission.

Nothing about what we’re presently dealing with is easy, but that doesn’t mean communication quality has to be sacrificed beyond what is necessary. Ensuring that your employees can embrace the ways in which they are heard during this time of turmoil will give them peace of mind, help them stay committed to your organization, and foster the sort of loyalty that will make it difficult for them to imagine working for anyone else.

Topics: Heard

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