Eons ago, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I released part 1 of a 3-part series on exceptional workplace culture. Mind you, whilst it feels like eons ago, it was only 3 weeks ago. Just to recap Sequence 1 was about why organisations need exceptional culture, and my research found there are 6 key ingredients for this.

One of the 6 key ingredients is communication.

Which is kind of funny, because whilst the world has tilted on its axis in that short space of time, and we are all busy pivoting and adopting, communication remains essential for workplace culture. Perhaps more so than ever before, as during times of quarantine and self-isolation, us humans crave connection almost as much as we crave red wine and chocolate.

Elements of communication

My research found good communication includes:

  • Authenticity- from the type of stories that are reported on internally, including challenges as well as wins, to the way that they are reported
  • Understanding your people want to be heard and actively listening to their opinions
  • Telling lots of stories that reinforce the vision
  • Use plain speak not corporate speak wherever possible
  • Introduce digital technology that allows for instantaneous and two-way communication between teams

So if we can’t communicate like this anymore, what should we do instead?

What do we need to do differently?

Thousands of Australians are now working from home (WFH) due to the pandemic.

Some of those people will not be familiar with WFH. Even for those who are familiar with the practice, in the past WFH usually meant a day here and there when you had to work on one task which required all your focus.

Whilst the elements of communication remain fundamentally the same, there are some things that leaders need to start doing differently.

Communicating during COVID19 tips

  1. Clarity is important at the best of times, see the 6 key ingredients above. Priorities may be changing daily – be 150% clear of what you expect of your team members. Tell them verbally, put it in an email, and try and include a nice info graphic, brief PowerPoint presentation, or a funny meme (god knows we all need a bit of a laugh now). We all process information differently, so give all of us a chance to properly receive the message and process it in the way that works best for us.
  2. In these times, when we do not have the benefit of physically being in a room together, we lose the opportunity to read each other’s body language. 55% of communication happens through body language. When this element is taken away due to WFH and remote communication, the spoken (and written) words are even more important. Listen for what is unsaid or unusual.
  3. Schedule daily Video Conference meetings. Start each meeting by going around the room and asking everyone for a one-word description of how they are feeling. Listen to their responses! Jot down the names of anyone you are concerned about and follow up with after the meeting. Have fun with the video conferencing.
  4. We need to hear the truth; however ugly it may be. Tells us how the organisation is responding to this crisis (health and economic) and how the company is placed to withstand the economic pressure. Then update us when that changes – as we all know it will.
  5. Understand that all change is real, all change is personal. This means that whilst the Executive may think they have done an excellent job of updating everyone, I’m focused on how this impacts me. I want to know if my job is safe, for how long, what measures the company is taking to protect my job. So, tell me!
  6. Practise your EI (emotional intelligence), particularly empathy. Some of your team members will have children at home all day, every day. Children, especially younger ones, demand their parent’s attention, and they don’t understand “Daddy’s busy, he’s on a work call”. If someone’s child races into the room and onto your video screen, swallow your anger.Maybe use the opportunity to inject some humour: “Is your colleague actually wearing pants?! Red alert, red alert. Unprofessional work attire”. Remember, your team member is doing the best they can under the circumstances (and potentially having to spend more time cooped up in a very small space with their partner and offspring since, well, ever). #challengingtimes
  7. In times of uncertainty (and boy does now fall in that basket), remember people may behave in extreme ways – stress, worry, concern, over-thinking are all normal responses. Be kind as a person may not be able to express how they are feeling, or why they are behaving in a certain way.

Overall, all, remember to be authentically you, and contribute to a shared sense of humanity.

But wait, there’s more

If you would like some more communication tips about WFH then check out this PPT presentation I shared recently.

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If you would like to chat about how Workology Co can help you build communication within your business, call me on 0400 019 599 or email me alison@workologyco.com.au

Hey, even if you just feel like a bit of a chat about these crazy times, then reach out. I love a good zoom chat. And my next goal is to master this House Party app that all the cool kids are using.