The tone of your communications during this unsettled and unsettling situation should reflect your genuine concern for all those in your circle, and should convey your commitment to maintaining the values and purpose of your organization.
Your constituents care about your mission, and they will continue to care. However, bear in mind that it is probably not their highest priority right now.
That said, they might appreciate knowing where you stand and what steps you are taking to weather this storm. You can and should share pertinent information, even including some difficult news, with sensitivity. And so,
- Be open. Honest. Authentic. Sympathetic. Transparent.]
- Lead with values of community over individual values or those of fear. Togetherness and solidarity can unite your circle around your shared purpose.
- Ensure your message and tone have a value for family, coworkers, and the greater good (community interest).
- Acknowledge the strain everyone is under, but do not dwell on it. While much of your messaging will not relate directly to COVID-19, failing to reference its impact could be seen as irresponsible.
- Ensure everyone in your organization is speaking to the same information with consistency of message. Inconsistency of message or the appearance of lack of empathy could affect trust that will be very difficult to regain.
- Remember that your communications now can either nurture or undermine a relationship of trust in the future.
- Communicate a sense of community by reiterating that you are present and available (even if virtually).
More than ever, this is the time to bring out the best in ourselves and our organizations.
Please feel free to offer your comments or reach out to us.
~ Susan Swinburne & Sue Moylan