Being the boss, being able to communicate, both to your team members and to your clients is part of the job. You likely already have a beautiful communication flow when interacting with your employees and clients at all points of contact. With your clients, this may start off with your website where they are introduced to your business and vision, and then:
- a phone call, visit or purchase where the communication is personalized
- followed by keeping in touch through email marketing
- and possibly a feedback survey or thank you as the interaction ends.
With your employees, this starts with your job posting…
- followed by interviews and onboarding
- then on to daily team communication as you grow together.
This flow of communication is usually established early on with gradual adjustments as your business develops.
Enter: an interruption or crisis, like a pandemic. Something that wasn’t in your business plan, wasn’t a risk you or anyone else foresaw, but it has arrived and it has changed everything. In the middle of all the analysis paralysis of decision making, we business owners find ourselves in, especially now, it’s easy to get caught up in our own heads and forget to maintain communication.
The key to holding steadfast and making smart moves? Maintaining communication. To start, make sure that you are updating your clients and employees so they know you are still engaged and they have the information they need.
For your clients:
- update your website,
- your hours,
- specifics on products, services, delivery, and
- update them on any new pivots you have introduced.
Equally important, communicate with your team as adjustments are made so that you help them navigate this chaos as well.
Here are a few tips that can help ensure that you maintain important relationships through a crisis.
Communicate with honesty
You don’t have to have all the answers. Let your clients and employees know what you can, even if it’s not much. That’s better than being completely in the dark. Everyone knows we are in this together and you are human too.
Even if you don’t have anything new to share with your team or clients, create regular check-ins where you just chat. Weekly team meetings for 30 minutes allows everyone to share how they are feeling about the changes, which is an opportunity to learn what others are going through. This can result in create bonding and team resilience for the future.
Have multiple, short-term plans for different scenarios
It may be difficult to plan when the information for the future is full of unknowns. Try to plan for one week, one month, 6 months, whatever you can. Share some of these plans with your employees and discuss ideas. They may be able to contribute to the brainstorming and at the very least, they will appreciate the communication because it’s their future too.
Highlight any positives
Sometimes, downtime can lead to productivity in areas that were being bypassed because you just didn’t have time for it before. It’s also a time to re-evaluate processes and expenses and create a more efficient system. Whatever positives can come out of the changes, share that with your employees. May you realized you could automate a system that would save your employees time, or take this time to complete performance reviews. Whatever you come up with, it could be time well spent and an investment in your company’s future.
Check-in on yourself and if you need a break, take one. Just let your team members or clients know when you will be available next so they can plan too. This is tough and it’s important to communicate that to maintain consistency.
At the end of the day, maintaining communication will be good for you too. It’s a lot of stress to be a business owner during a crisis, and you will likely get more empathy than you expect when you open the lines of communication. We are all in this together.