6 communication tactics to emerge stronger post-COVID and stay relevant in the "new normal"
During a time of intense uncertainty, in the rise of a contact-less economy and as remote working becomes mainstream, communication strategies and tactics must evolve to remain effective.
The good news is that a crisis can be a decisive turning point and a catalyst for positive change to build organizational resilience. Here are 6 communication tactics to carry your organization through this major health crisis with a renewed sense of purpose and trust.
1. A clear leadership articulating a powerful sense of purpose
– in time of crisis having a commander at the helm who leads by example is of paramount importance. Because leadership without communication is NOT leadership, the leader will be the voice of the company during the turmoil, showing the way to the end of the tunnel. He should act with humility and empathy, and embody the organization's values whilst proving stability. He will communicate an aspirational vision and achievable goals, present the methodology to get there, whilst being committed to action and reporting the progress throughout the organization.
2. Radical transparency to build trust
– as we enter an extended period of uncertainty, being fully transparent is critical to reassuring your stakeholders. Transparency builds trust irrespective of the mistakes you might and will certainly make. People have greater confidence in leaders and companies admitting simply their mistakes with candour and that demonstrate their ability to continually learn from mistakes. Indeed, in time of crisis and uncertainty, transparency is more critical than ever.
3. Communicate your vision for the company in the “new normal” and your method to achieve it
– while tactical decisions are necessary to fight a crisis, a vision for the future is needed and will keep people engaged. This vision will define how you will reinterpret your core business and choose your future in the “new normal”. It is like a light at the end of a tunnel, giving both hope and direction.
Communicating a vision is a difficult exercise. Therefore it is important to build the narratives framing this vision and clearly communicate your method to achieve it. And don’t forget to make a strong link with your corporate values which will provide continuity, coherence and act as a guide in the tunnel. These values will allow people to connect with a deeper and aspirational sense of purpose.
4. Leverage your community to bring insights to the table
– offer your stakeholders - employees, partners, board members, clients, suppliers - the opportunity to share their ideas to emerge stronger from the crisis. Their perspectives on the situation will complement yours. Listen carefully to all these viewpoints and empower your staff to take relevant initiatives that are aligned with the vision. It is only by doing so that you will be able to reimagine your industry, bring insights and innovation to the table, and build a smarter and more resilient organization.
Listening is an under-estimated and possibly counter-intuitive communication tactic. However, a very powerful one. It will also form and nurture YOUR community – a community of people personally committed to a common goal. Engaging with your stakeholders will not only ensure potential problems are addressed soonest but will also build positive attitudes to the company’s vision for the “new normal”.
5. Develop communication skills for the virtual workplace
– with remote working becoming mainstream, it is essential to train your people on how to efficiently communicate within a remote team as communication is the foundation of collaboration. Everyone will need to learn how to build virtual yet meaningful relationships, keep the upsides of the office’s “random” social interactions alive and foster trust. Such skills are neither innate nor an inevitable consequence of so far experienced social maturation. They will need to be actively developed by training and coaching team managers and team members.
6. Finally, have memory to be better for the next race
– it will not be sufficient to survive this pandemic, you need to learn from it, from your decisions and from those of the other actors in your ecosystem and beyond. You need to capture what worked well in terms of communication and what did not, and you need to pass it to the coming generation to be prepared for the next black swan. It is another essential role of Communication to develop this corporate memory and ensure that lessons are learned, shared and continuously updated.
These 6 communication tactics will bring organizational cohesiveness and build resilience.
6 very simple steps starting with a strong leadership, embracing the recognition that victories are won by teams not individuals and calling for memory building resulting in improved readiness to manage the next crisis. Following those 6 strategies will contribute to the building of a stronger organization, one prepared for the “new normal” or for a new black swan.