As I was sat in a hospital waiting room for 4 hours with no news of what was going on, it occurred to me just how important communication is!
As leaders one of our biggest obligations is to communicate.
We have significantly more information than anyone in our organisation, and we should look to share as much as we can.
The more information we can share, the greater the understanding, the knowledge and trust our teams will have in us.
This is extremely important when we undergo major changes.
Here we should communicate early, accurately, honestly and often.
The earlier we can communicate, the better we can manage the stress and anxiety within the organisation.
Stress and anxiety increase the longer people are aware of situation but have no real details about it.
Our imaginations are very powerful and generally imagine the worse situation possible, which will generally be much worse than reality.
If you have an organisation of 1000 thousand people, and you plan announce 5 people will be made redundant, nearly 1000 people will have concerns that they will be made redundant. Imagine the level of stress we have generated and how much of that could have been averted if we had announced early the real situation.
Anxiety comes from a lack of certainty and a feeling of powerlessness. By communicating we can give people certainty, and if they know their options then we have passed back control to them.
They may not like their options, but at least they now have control.
Accuracy and honesty of communication helps generate trust and understanding. This allows people to be able to absorb what is going on, and to then help implement the change.
Communicating often ensure that everyone understands the change. Not all people learn or understand things the first time they are communicated: some people may need us to tell them just once, others may need telling 2, 3, or 4 times before they fully understand.
The more people that understand, the better the implementation of the change will be.
Also, by communicating often, we give people plenty of opportunity to ask questions, raise issues or concerns. If we communicate just once, we will only get part of the potential feedback that may help us avoid issues.
In summary, communicate, communicate, communicate; communicate early, accurately, honestly and often; if you can do this then you will reduce stress and anxiety, increase knowledge and understanding, and consequently the probability of success.