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Communicating Difficult Decisions to the Whole Business

March 25, 2024

Effective communication in difficult times isn’t just about delivering the message; it’s about listening with empathy, speaking with clarity, and leading with integrity. In our dreams every day in business runs smoothly, but reality is seldom like that. 


Our suggestions for communicating difficult decisions to sustain engagement and create team  commitment are:


1.) Start with the Why:

  • Providing context by explaining the “why” helps employees understand its necessity and purpose. When employees get the reason behind a decision, they are more likely to support it and actively contribute to success.


2.) Be Honest and Transparent:

  • Employees appreciate honesty and transparency from their leaders, especially during difficult times. Clearly communicate the reasons behind the decision, the factors that influenced it, and any potential impacts it may have. Don’t disguise or withhold information. It can lead to mistrust and disengagement.


3.) Involve Key Stakeholders:

  • Engage key stakeholders early in the decision-making process. Involving them not only ensures that diverse perspectives are considered but also creates buy-in. These stakeholders can be advocates and help communicate the decision to their respective teams more meaningfully.


4.) Provide Timelines:

  • Clearly outline the timelines and implementation milestones. This helps create certainty and enables them to plan accordingly. Having a clear roadmap also creates accountability and ensures that everyone shares aligned expectations and deadlines.


5.) Communicate in Different Ways:

  • Create different ways for employees to receive information, gain clarity or express concerns. This could include team meetings, one-on-one sessions with managers, anonymous feedback platforms, email, chat programmes (WhatsApp, Slack etc). Providing a variety of ways to access information encourages open dialogue.


6.) Over-Communicate:

  • In times of change or uncertainty, it’s better to over-communicate rather than under-communicate. Repeat key messages through various channels to ensure that everyone receives the information. Regular updates and progress reports can help keep employees informed and engaged.


7.) Provide Support:

  • Change can be challenging. Offer support to employees during the transition. Additional resources, training, or guidance to help employees adapt goes a long way. Demonstrating support reinforces a sense of care and fosters a positive work environment.


8.) Show Empathy:

  • Show empathy towards employees impacted by the decision. Acknowledge their emotions and concerns. Validate their experiences, which can be different for each person. Leaders who demonstrate empathy build trust and rapport with their teams, which is crucial for maintaining engagement and cooperation during difficult times.


By incorporating these tips into your communication strategy, even difficult decisions can create engagement and build for success.

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