How should you be communicating to your team over the next few months?
In some states, people are starting to float back into the office, but really you never really know where anyone is on any given day. You have been working hard to share information rapidly during the pandemic and trying to stay engaged with your team. Communicating with your team does not stop now that we are working in the “new normal”.
As a leader, your number one job is communication. You have probably learnt this over the last few months more than any time in your career. Your staff want to know everything.
- Can I come into the office?
- Should I come into the office?
- Do I have to come into the office?
- What are our priorities now?
- What do you know?
- What do I need to know?
People can be so demanding.
Here is what you need to remember over the next few months as your patience and will to communicate wanes.
Meet their needs
Remember communicating effectively is about them, it’s not about you.
Potentially, your staff are going to have a complex range of needs at the moment and a lot of questions. You may not be able to fulfil them all, but you can point them in the right direction or seek out the information they need.
Pre-empt the fact that you won’t know everything. Ask someone from HR or the COVID Taskforce to join your next team meeting to answer questions. Find resources on your internet or wider for your team and share them in an email. Ask your boss to join a virtual catch up to give a different perspective.
Find out what your staff need and put in a little effort to deliver for everyone.
Be inclusive and creative
This “new normal” means it is likely you will have staff at home and in the office every day of the week. It almost seemed simpler when everyone was at home. Now you need to be conscious of not communicating differently to those people who you see face to face—giving them a little more information or a bit more detail on the project just because they are right there.
You need to communicate in a way that everyone can be involved. Be very aware of calling team members who aren’t in the office, even if its just a quick chat about a project. I heard a great story the other day about team having a meeting in a park so everyone could come. You need to try new things, get creative and be hyper-aware in this weird new way of working.
Keep them informed
I know, I know—your over it. You feel like to talk to your staff all the time. You have hourly, daily, weekly catch-ups where you tell them everything you know. And often get blank faces on Zoom in return.
Here is the problem. As the leader, you need to be sharing the right amount of information with your team. Don’t overwhelm them by telling them absolutely everything you know, but don’t leave gaping holes of silence. It’s an art, finding the right balance. This will be different for every team so you will need to try things and ask your staff how it is working for them. (PS – the most frustrating answer after you put in a whole lot of effort is “fine”). You need to keep your momentum from the last few months going.
Demonstrate the behaviour you want to see
If you want your staff to open up to you, be present in meetings, ask questions, follow up on actions you have set. You need to do the same. As the team leader, you set the culture and the approach to communication in your team. If you are quiet and distracted in meetings, so will your team. If you never do what you say you will, then neither will your team.
Ultimately, your staff need to feel safe to voice their questions and opinions, feel like they are heard and informed. You need to be yourself while being willing to adapt your style and take feedback. It’s a tough gig being the boss!