Anyone in a leadership position faces the same basic conundrum when it comes to communicating key developments with your team. The questions of how, when, and why can all become a little bit overwhelming when you consider the impact that it will have not just on employee morale but on the business at large.
That’s why it’s important to operate within a few key parameters when disseminating information to your employees. Here are a few key tactics that have been used by professionals across various industries, and will work for you too.
1. Squash Rumors Before They Start:
Rampant speculation about business developments, such as mergers, acquisitions, strategy shifts, and more, can be sniffed out by even the most amateur of reporters. An unqualified source here and a mildly-disgruntled employee there, and before you know it, the rumor mill is in full swing, leaving your company completely off-kilter.
While you can’t address every single rumor that goes throughout the corporate blogosphere, you can deliver nuggets of information that will hold people over until the real news can drop. Moreover, reassure your team that as soon as new developments become available, you will communicate those to your team as well.
2. When In Doubt, Rely On the Facts:
People love to pontificate about all the “what-if” scenarios involving businesses, but don’t allow yourself (or your team) to be carried about by theories or possibilities. Instead, address them in terms of fact-based conversations: “We don’t know that for sure, but we do know that X and Y have taken place.” Never disclose information that isn’t already public knowledge unless you feel like it’s the right time to do so, but pointing and redirecting people back to the facts can help keep everyone on the same page.
3. Resist the Urge to Constantly Provide Updates:
Here’s a tip: as soon as you learn a piece of information yourself, sit on it for at least a day before you entertain the idea of sharing it with team members. Even then, it’s best to ask your inner circle for their advice before it becomes common knowledge.
Updating people in real-time on the developments in your business has the impression of transparency, but what it really looks like to most people is utter chaos. Things happen behind the scenes all the time that either never make it to the forefront or take longer than expected to develop, so resist the urge to tell people everything as it happens. They’ll be none the wiser for it, and the important issues will still develop.
4. Encourage Your Team to Ask Questions:
The last thing you want your team to believe is that they’re irrelevant in the larger structure of your organization. They don’t want to be blindsided by major developments that affect them, but they also don’t need to be kept abreast of every development. Remind them that your business is always in a state of “growth,” and that change comes with the territory.
With that in mind, encourage them to come to you with any questions or concerns, whether in an informal or a formal capacity. Tell them what you can, and if you can’t, simply explain to them why not and when they should be able to expect it. Your team will, at the very least, respect your honesty.
Jay Sekulow is the Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice.