As the well-known leadership guru Peter Drucker noted, "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." As we transition from crisis to recovery mode, communicating effectively is definitely one of the right things.
Three months ago, we covered leading during a crisis. Here we are going to delve deeper into what is needed to reassure everyone during this transition, which will continue to be a time of uncertainty and angst for many staff members. As you are working through the logistical and practical details of the recovery process, keep in mind these facets of good leadership communication.
Ensuring transparency. Everyone will be looking to their leaders for continued updates and information -- even if it's not all pleasant news. Many financial institutions may need to make hard decisions in the coming months, related to staffing, operations, branch closures, and the like. Staff members are also going to have questions about safely returning to work, increasing branch capacity, ongoing business continuity, and more. Letting your employees know how things are moving forward and what is being done to get there will provide a vital level of comfort. Still, you may not always have the answers. Top-notch leaders recognize that it's better to acknowledge this than to come up with something; this level of forthrightness will likely reinforce your credibility too.
Making regular appearances. While emails and phone calls are good ways to reach out, live video conferences, at least now and then, also allow employees to see your leadership in action, ask questions, and have their voices heard. Topics addressed in these forums can include efforts being made to transition from crisis to recovery, ongoing ways your institution continues to help customers, and even spotlighting employees who go above and beyond in supporting customers and community members. Having these types of virtual conferences provides a closer connection between you and your employees which is especially critical during these days of transition.
Scheduling one-on-ones. Remember the importance from a leadership perspective of face-to-face contact, in whatever medium is practical. The ability to see someone's face and read their body language, even via video, is better than a phone call. It can provide comfort to an employee who may feel out-of-sorts, clue you into the fact that something may be amiss, and solidify your leadership presence. As Peter Drucker also says, "The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said."
While we know you are all doing the right things to lead your employees through this new phase of the coronavirus, refreshers never hurt. Keep communicating effectively and your team will be ready when the recovery comes.