As we learn what’s needed at this time here are some simple steps which may help :
- Be Clear
- Be Cool
Be clear about the state of play. Everyone is struggling at the moment, so be honest.
Be clear about what communication channels are for e.g.
- Email is for longer messages that need to be a matter of record
- MS Teams channel or Slack groups can be project or team-based
Communicate key messages in simple terms using different mediums e.g. video, 1-2-1s, group meetings
- Agree protocols for communication – e.g. DM someone to ask if they are free to speak, using “Do not disturb” buttons or setting a message saying when you’ll be available again.
- Use video. Set expectation around the use of video and get senior colleagues to be role-models for this. Using video greatly increases engagement and allows people to actively demonstrate commitment to the communication.
- Ask the team what they think will make online communication work e.g. dress codes, accepting interruptions will happen etc. You may have to navigate some competing views AND you will get buy in if people create their own ways of working.
- Agree specific channels for “blethering” – exchanging the fun stuff and pictures of cats. People need to express themselves AND keeping this conversation in one place prevents work messages from becoming congested with more personal messages.
- Set up “down time” sessions for breaks and lunch which people can join if they want to. Get the team to suggest things to do in this time – it could be as simple as listening to music together whilst you eat lunch.
Be cool – there is a new “normal”! Imposing traditional structures and behaviours will not work. In fact, there is a massive opportunity here to re-think how people work.
- Recognise and acknowledge your own feelings
- Accept that we are in transition through the immediate crisis and the longer-term impact it will have
- Remember your colleagues will never forget how you treat them at this time; support them and they will give you their best