Communicating during a time of financial pressure when staff are facing uncertainty is not an easy task. For one thing there is always criticism about how much money is being spent on both internal and external communication, and for another people can be demotivated because of the circumstances they are confronted with. There is no doubt that many managers are struggling with how to keep teams motivated in these austere times and particularly after having years when a combination of job security and money did the trick.
The question then is how can communication help people manage their current situation? What can it add to the difficulties of successful communication with employees? Is it worthwhile investing in this area when budgets are being so stretched?
In short the answer is it has a lot to bring, it is really crucial and yes, it is absolutely right to invest in some way to ensure effective communication with staff.
There are a number of things that are important when trying to build and maintain a motivated team, focused on the job in hand and resilient to the difficulties ahead. Consistent and regular communication has to be part of the foundation we lay, without it we cannot build any further. This means making sure managers keep sharing updates about the situation, priorities, budgets and resources on a regular basis. It is also important to ensure a level of honesty about what is ahead and not to hide information.
However, there is one thing that is often overlooked or not talked as important to managing the current situation and that is the need to be positive. Every day staff will see newspaper reports and headlines about financial crisis, companies collapsing and unemployment on the increase. They face this reality on a daily basis, and are living it with every bill they receive. Staff don’t need to be told that these are challenging times – they know.
It is critical that managers right up to the most senior levels in an organisation are aware of this but don’t let it drag them down. One of the things that will show true leadership is those people who can continue to find ways to be positive about the tasks at hand as well as the future. They will identify what can motivate staff without the use of money, promotion or benefits. No-one claims it is easy but it can be done.
The last thing that staff who are under pressure want to see or hear is depressing words about the problems that are ahead. Any leader that goes around and looks down and depressed will have a huge impact on the rest of their team. The team will see the behaviour and as well as reminding them of the reality they face, it will also lead to a sense of despair, and will spread through the team.
So, as well as recognising the importance of consistent, regular and timely communication about the events in an organisation let us remind all managers about the significance of how they behave. A positive outlook really will be the sign of an effective manager in 2012.