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Communicating with Empathy: 4 Effective Leadership Techniques

Communicating with Empathy: 4 Effective Leadership Techniques

The “People First” culture tagline has graced virtually every organisation’s ‘About Us’ page on the web. But the coronavirus crisis is really putting this leadership value to the test. 

True to their word, many companies are taking on increasing risk and uncertainty with empathy and compassion for their people—while others are showing their true colours. 

Even in times of war, the leaders who succeed are the ones who put the good of their people first. And how you handle the upcoming months will make all the difference for your organisation. 

Right now, you have the chance to not only preserve your culture in a new remote-working landscape, but also potentially save your organisation in unstable times. 

Today, I wanted to share advice on maintaining a “People-First” approach during a global event that is impacting every organisation. Because I believe we can get through these times in an empathetic and compassionate way, by simply looking at how leaders communicate and embrace (enforced) change.

1. Communicating through uncertainty

All organisations are currently faced with difficult decisions. 

Finances and logistics are rife with uncertainty and anxiety for leadership teams, and each question seems unanswerable. However, even when faced with challenges, organisations must maintain transparent communication. 

No matter the news you have, good or bad, how you deliver the answers to your teams can make all the difference. 

So, what is the best way to communicate with your people, even when you may be feeling uncertain?

Fortunately, that’s a question with a clear answer: if social connectedness is the glue that keeps a remote culture together, then open communication is the core of connectedness. 

The safe space you create for your people to voice concerns and ask questions shows you respect their need for answers. It puts people first, something the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) prioritise at all times, customising their Hive platform’s digital Open Door feature as an employee’s “Direct Line to Caroline”—their CEO.

2. Asking for Feedback 

During a crisis, many organisations are looking to cut unnecessary spending or effort. 

Communication with your people, including employee surveys and the technology that facilitates this feedback, shouldn’t be one of the things you cut. 

In fact, these technologies — and the psychological methodology at their foundation — are now more important than ever. Due to the increased emotion during this crisis and workforces being more geographically dispersed, people may feel more disconnected than ever before. 

Having said that, it may not be a good idea for organisations to run their typical employee surveys. 

Instead, consider utilising these technologies to stay connected, to give people the option to share their voices, and to gauge sentiment in these uncertain times. That feedback will serve as the roadmap for showing the right kind of care and support to your people, while putting in place appropriate support mechanisms.

The feedback channel must stay open. Consider customising your employee surveys and actions to what you hear directly from your teams. 

This customisation can result in not only validation of individual feelings, but also the increased efficacy of your engagement initiatives. All in all, this isn’t the time to lose touch with the people who make up the heart of your organisation.

3. Being emotionally open 

If you’re in a leadership role, you likely have as much, if not more, anxiety about the future as your teams do. But arguably one of the most positive impacts of the last few weeks has been humanisation. 

We’ve become more human with how we use technology and how we interact with clients and people around us. 

There’s nothing more human than being vulnerable. Vulnerability holds power in uncertain times. 

By being more emotionally open with your teams now, you’re building more meaningful human connections and spreading hope and authenticity across your organisation. 

4. Embracing new ways of working

Many organisations have long resisted remote work as part of their business model. 

But as many employees are now advised to take their workplaces into their homes, the landscape is quickly shifting. 

The projection is certainly clear as businesses strive to adapt: many workplaces will exist outside of traditional office spaces in the future. That’s why organisations must future proof their employee experience now. 

Planning for surveys that will help design remote and flexible working policies—and designate a reliable channel of communication—may be the key to taking on this challenge. And approaching future obstacles with empathy and compassion is how you can put your best foot forward for your organisation.

Final Thoughts

As for other projections into the future, we’ll have to see. But no matter what, the future will certainly be brighter if we all remember that right now, leaders need to take a People-First approach—for real. 

And as leaders navigate this global pandemic together, we have to live by this: transparency, communication, empathy and compassion will help us preserve our culture and weather this storm.

Fancy a virtual cuppa with Ryan, our People Science Director? Connect with Ryan on LinkedIn and send him a message, he’s always up for talking through real people challenges and employee engagement goals.

Or, if you’d like to talk to a Hive specialist about mobilising a custom employee survey, register for an intro call with a sector specialist. They’ll scope your needs, introduce you to our platform and people and also share how Hive customers are maximising our Open Door feature to manage employee concerns about Coronavirus.

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