Crisis management for managers: Communicate transparently - 7 tips


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Stand after crises Company from immense economic problems - and this is where (internal and external) communication comes into play. The goal must be to be “ready” again after the crisis and to have the goodwill of the employees.

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Sereina Schmidt Best of HR – Berufebilder.de®Sereina Schmidt is an entrepreneur, consultant, sparring partner and speaker.

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Why a crisis surprises us

As a rule, nobody expected a crisis and hardly anyone could have imagined the corresponding scenarios. Otherwise there would be a crisis plan. This is what makes crises so difficult.

Just then notice Companyhow important communication is. Yes, the right communication makes the difference. We hold on to information because it offers us structure or represents something tangible. This gives us some security even in uncertain times.

Internal communication as a management tool

Crisis situations that affect us all bring society together or separate it. We are more sensitive and therefore analyze more closely what our environment is doing. We categorize behavior. We are emotional and want emotions instead of just facts.

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Internal communication is of particular importance as a management tool. Because when companies no longer have their own employees on their side, it becomes difficult - with or without a crisis.

Sequence of crisis communication: First comes the person

There is a clear order of what and how to communicate in crisis situations:

  1. Man comes first.
  2. Then the environment comes.
  3. Then the infrastructure.
  4. Then the money.

This means that if CEOs do not first think about the affected employees in their communication and communicate this, but speak immediately and only about the financial losses, then they have lost. A reversal of priorities is never accepted by society in crises.

When the masks fall

Crises separate the wheat from the chaff. That is whether we like it or not. During a crisis, the “real” faces show themselves away from any guiding principles. It shows who can lead and who has a backbone. So CEOs are well advised to show in crisis situations that they care about and want to protect employees.

That they are emotional, i.e. communicate the facts with (real) compassion. That they are not acting alone, but are looking for partners - ideally experts for the respective area - in order to make the best possible decision. Above all, that they have a backbone, no matter what decisions have to be made. If entrepreneurs adhere to these “rules”, they themselves will be perceived differently in the long term as a personality - but also the company as a whole. All of this pays into the reputation account. At best, positive, faster than you think, but also negative.

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Other scenarios

For many, the delicate phases of communication will only start in the coming days and weeks, maybe even months. Up to now, many companies have been concerned with improvisation due to the timeliness and urgency. Rules had to be implemented. And sometimes it was easy to wait and see.

Slowly but surely, the phase of planning further scenarios now begins: applying for short-time work or going through it somehow, restructuring the services in the medium and long term, downsizing, or - as a last resort - closure. That means that now it is crucial how we continue to behave. This applies not only to the company itself, but also to internal and external communication.

Make and communicate decisions carefully

In such situations, it is crucial how entrepreneurs behave as leaders, but also entire companies. If decisions had a major impact on reputation before, they are now the guillotine for long-term success or failure of a corporate brand.

Of course, it may be, or it is very likely for many, that they will have to make serious decisions in the next few weeks for economic reasons. But now, more than ever, it is important to think carefully about how we communicate them.

What can managers do specifically?

So what can entrepreneurs and leaders do specifically?

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  1. Triple your communication cadence. If you have previously informed once a week, do so now every two days, even if nothing new has been added.
  2. Communicate clearly, bring all the facts to the table. Withholding information only creates further growing uncertainty.
  3. Involve employees and motivate them.
  4. Make the urgency clear, for example with regard to the economic or health consequences.
  5. Let all of your employees have their say. You may get great creative ideas, but most importantly, take your employees seriously.
  6. Don't make speculative decisions! Even if decisions can change from day to day at the moment, stick to the facts.
  7. Clearly delegate tasks. Because you have to keep your head clear and continue to lead. In addition, every employee is currently happy about tasks and employment.

Conclusion: Why is transparency so important in crisis management

Crises require transparency and leadership. There is no other way. For all CEOs today, more than ever:

Be aware of what you are doing if you are currently acting out of the crisis and out of economic considerations. And remember: you build your reputation over the years and destroy it with just a few sentences.


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