6 tips for Crisis communication in the enterprise

All leaders must communicate to their employees in these trying times. I see professional approaches where CEOs make smart use of their social intranets. By posting regularly on their social networks and interacting with employees they are visible and feel close to their employees. I also see companies that have not innovated in this area over the past years and that are having to resort to emailing long texts of the CEO or cascade information through WhatsApp. 

For a lot of companies this is the time to up their game when it comes to leadership and internal comms. Here are a few tips from my specialty; using social networks as a leadership instrument: 

1. The situation we’re in is not going to be dealt with by sending one email or video message to the company. This situation is going to evolve over time and you need to be close to your people on a daily basis. Start to prepare a communications and dialogue plan. Involve other leaders in this plan as well.  

2. Because this situation will be here for some time; make sure you prepare your infrastructure NOW. Use your internal social network for your communication. If you don’t have one, get one. It is not too late. Good ones are Yammer and Workplace by Facebook. If you have Office 365 from Microsoft you can turn on Yammer with one click. If you are a small or medium sized company you could also go to MS Teams or Slack. 

3. Broadcast regularly and try to use modern forms of communication. Limit long emails. Use short posts on your social intranet or even (live) video. However, it does not end with broadcasting. The power of broadcast is limited. 

4. Involve and activate people. Besides wanting to be spoken to, people also have a need to have a voice. Especially when they are isolated at home. In between broadcasting, ask them questions for them to respond to. If the questions are formulated well, you’ll make them feel part of the quest, feel heard, and feel connected to you and the company. This is far more powerful than solely using the broadcasting technique. A question to start things off with is: “A lot of us are working from our homes in isolation. This is tough but I know you are making the best of this. Please share what things you and your team have done to stay connected and keep spirits up.” 

5. Although they seem sexy, Q&As are not always the best instrument to use. You get far too many questions to be able to answer them live. Some questions might create huge elephants in the room. It is less engaging than a lot of people think. Ask questions, as suggested under 4. 

6. Social networks will give you the infrastructure to reach employees and connect with them. It is still your communication skills that will make it a success in the end. Make sure you understand the principles of communication on social platforms. Besides giving guidance you need to ask powerful questions.  

Feel free to reach out if you'd like a few more words of advice on this (no strings attached).

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