Practice good crisis communication and your team may emerge stronger than ever.
Don't waste a good crisis, says lean management consultant Peter Abilla. The awareness that your company is in crisis can create urgency that inspires your team to pull together. He suggests following this action plan:
1. Admit that the business is in trouble. While your evidence may be visible in financial reports, a better clue is the morale of your employees. Their disengagement and discouragement influences the way they work and how they interact with customers.
2. Share bad news with absolute emotional honesty. Tell employees how the company is doing, and be both factually and emotionally honest. People respond to an emotional connection better than to exhortations or management-speak.
3. Tell employees what you are going to do. Speak about actions that affect the immediate situation and the future of the company. A reminder about what made the company great can be powerful. If there's been a drift from core values, a sincere promise to return to them can help to regain staff members' trust.
4. Be specific. To build confidence, clearly describe the steps you and your staff need to take together. Define the milestones that must be reached, and by when. Employees need to know what changes to expect and exactly what they can do to help. They want to contribute.
5. Concentrate on the most willing members of the team. Some people will quickly support a strong plan, others want to wait and see, and a vocal few will actively resist. Recruit supportive employees to work with you to accomplish a few successes. The fence-sitters will gradually come into the fold, creating the tipping point that can transform the organization.
Peter Abilla has been an advisor to companies like Amazon.com, Eli Lilly and Kaiser Permanente. For more of his ideas, read his blog at www.shmula.com
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