Leadership communication in the new normal
The ability to effectively communicate during times of rapid change and long-term stress is a critical leadership skill. Leaders who are able to communicate hopeful messages that are less about returning to normal and more about acceptance of change, can shift the narrative from what’s been lost to what’s becoming possible. In addition, connecting the messages to the organisation’s mission and values can also help to reignite motivation, wellbeing and productivity in the workforce as we navigate through the crisis.
The power of organisational connections
Strong workplace networks impact the bottom line, as they are the key factors for driving productivity and innovation. The recent Microsoft Work Trend Index that analysed trillions of productivity signals, such as emails, meetings and chats, across Microsoft’s and LinkedIn’s user base highlighted the significant impact remote working had on organisational connections. As we moved into remote working, interactions with close networks increased, whilst interactions with more distant networks have diminished. As a result, teams became more siloed than they were pre-pandemic. With remote and hybrid work being the new norm, teams can’t rely on connecting by the watercooler, however organisations can encourage cross-team collaboration and knowledge-share during meeting, and leaders play a key role in being the dot connectors who bring people together.
A recent INSEAD study of over 500 remote workers globally highlighted that teams that were thriving in the virtual environment were those that were scheduling informal gatherings to connect teams through non-work-related activities. In comparison, those who didn’t engage in virtual socials found it more difficult to adapt to the new normal and felt less connected. As working from home has blurred the lines between work and personal life, without routines like the daily commute, it has been challenging to switch between the two. Small talk makes us feel seen and connected, but as remote work replaced our physical presence in the office, we decreased that informal connection. Chance encounters and spontaneous conversations with co-workers can spark collaboration and improve creativity, innovation and performance as well as help employees to disengage from their home roles and ease into business mode.
Communicating ongoing change
The way leaders communicate can make or break employee commitment to their organisation. Whilst they can’t solve all organisational problems fuelled by a global pandemic, they can provide context, perspective and clarity on what matters. Consistent, ongoing communication from top-down also prevents employees from making assumptions and positions them to better understand what is expected as they face continuous changes. Leadership focus should be centered around prioritising people, demonstrating empathy and engaging with employees to understand their concerns, whilst creating clarity and hope for the future.
Leaders who make time to listen to their employees’ perspectives and making them be heard and valued,can also create a sense of belonging and psychological safety. However, it’s not just about how they listen, but also about how often they listen. Creating an organisational culture where continuous efforts are being made to listen to employees, on organisational, team and individual levels, will help to build a resilient organisation fit for the post-pandemic world.
At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops and coaching programmes, ranging from communication skills through to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programmes for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org.