As a leader, you know that communication with employees during times of change is vitally important. Even though you might have the best intentions, when you are under pressure and employees are feeling anxious, it might be easy to get tripped up as the situation is evolving.
During times of change, employees might have questions that range from serious to what you might think is “silly”. Often, the “silly” questions come as people are processing the change. In this moment, it’s important to listen, show empathy and be patient with your employees.
Be sure that you avoid these change communication mistakes:
- Think only about the information you need to share. Instead: Tie in “what does this mean to me.” Use specific examples of what employees need to do differently to help the company succeed.
- Deliver a message once, then expect everyone to “get it.” Instead: Repeat, repeat, repeat. By the time leaders are ready to introduce a change, they’ve been working with the issue for months. But employees are hearing it for the first time, so they need reinforcement.
- Get irritated when hearing a question you’ve answered many times before. Instead: Act patient, even if you don’t feel that way.How well leaders answer questions can mean the difference between encouraging employees to speak freely and shutting people down.
- Do all the talking. Instead: Be a good listener. Letting people give voice to their anxieties has been proven by researchers to release tension.
- Become defensive when someone asks a tough question. Instead, (take a deep breath) and calmly answer difficult questions. If you don’t know all the details, it’s ok to say, “I don’t know,” but make sure to tell employees you’ll give them the rest of the information as soon as possible.