By: Sara Thomas

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What the world needs now is great communication.

In every corner of the world, people are staring down a double threat to their physical and financial health on a grand scale. They are on uneven footing in a wholly new logistical landscape that pervades their personal and professional lives, feeling the full weight of work-life trade-offs that we have long been uncomfortable with, and trying to stay productive and calm for their families.

Companies have vast communications networks and resources to connect people with timely, accurate information. By leveraging these channels effectively, leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen culture, community, and trust in their organizations.

We will get through this.

We will do so more safely, successfully, and faster if we work together. We’re seeing great communications approaches, and I’d love to hear about more. My company created a CommsRx google doc for leaders, employees, consumers, and citizens to share what’s been working for them. I hope you’ll contribute.

In the meantime, I’m sharing my top five tips for healthy communications that keep people engaged, productive, and connected, with the right information.

[Related: Self-Awareness Tips for Leading With Positive Impact]

1) Align for consistency.

60% of companies don’t have a long-term internal communication strategy in place. Align a cross-functional team including HR, Legal, Operations, Finance, Communications, Marketing, and IT with a laser focus on your message today.

Spend time getting it right the first time so you don’t lose time, perpetuate misinformation, or need to walk back communications to internal and external stakeholders. The goal is to reduce chaos, not add to it.

2) Build connection.

Current communications culture and cadence won’t be enough to get teams through. Leaders should — at a minimum — set more frequent, shorter touch points with video conferencing, check in on state of mind, and report weekly on wins, progress, and work still to do.

We can’t all be Italy, but we can all creatively drive greater connection — even if it’s starting calls with, “What was the best part of your day?”

3) Clear is kind.

This is great advice from bestselling author Brene Brown. From “work from home” expectations to how changing policies and procedures may impact clients, keep communications clear and concise. Make sure folks know exactly what is expected of them, and what they can expect of you.

[Related: Science Proves Demonstrating Kindness in the Workplace is Your Competitive Advantage]

4) The internal is external, and vice versa.

Leaders can expect what they say inside organizations to reach external audiences almost instantaneously.

It’s important to look at all messaging from both lenses and leverage your greatest strength — your people. Recall of key messages can increase four-foldwhen internal and external campaigns are aligned.

5) Share, share, share.

Communications strategies that didn’t make the shortlist for your team might help others. Share approaches in a central location for partners in your community and industry. Ask employees and clients to share their feedback.

Assuming your communications are hitting the mark when they are not is the most common business blind spot.

Take action today.

The questions below can help leaders identify blind spots and take action to accelerate communications success.

  1. Is a crisis team aligned to communicate as one team, to all stakeholders?
  2. Does your CEO have a direct line to employees and clients (via an app)?
  3. Are communications reaching below the management level?
  4. Are you working from a communications strategy, plan, and key message map?
  5. When this crisis unfolded, did you know the first 50 calls you needed to make?
  6. Have you adjusted/paused marketing to develop messaging that fits the crisis?
  7. Are crisis and marketing messages aligned?
  8. Are you checking in regularly with your team(s) on state of mind?
  9. Have you checked to make sure current meeting times still work for your team?
  10. Have you communicated a clear leave policy for employees?
  11. Are you clearly communicating future plans with all affected, regularly?
  12. Are you actively measuring employee and customer brand sentiment?
  13. Have you engaged strategic partners to develop a coordinated approach?
  14. Where can your community find your plan for handling the crisis?
  15. Is there a strong feedback loop in-place for employees, clients, and partners?

[Related: Empathetic Leadership and its Path to the Power Table]

Sara Thomas works with AWL’s clients to craft agile communications strategies that engage the workforce, transform culture, and create velocity. With over twenty years of experience in strategic communications and organization change spanning the public and private sectors, her mission is to help clients tell their best stories, drive innovation, and maximize results.

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