To accompany the Brexit change, put the company at the heart of your team communications

Last week, the “Leave” win over the Brexit referendum created a lot of turmoil. “Uncertainty” made most headlines in the news. This applies as much to politics, financial markets as to company strategies. As stated by the General Director of the Institute of Directors, Simon Walker, “Businesses will be busy working out how they are going to adapt and succeed after the referendum result.”

When facing change, most individuals will go through a series of stages from acceptance to action. But this change that we are now facing is of a whole other kind as its consequences are largely unknown leading to fear within businesses.
The only real option is reassurance through clear internal communication. It’s even more  true now than before. Smooth communication during meetings is our speciality at Wisembly, so here’s what we recommend to our clients.

1/ Carefully brief managers to make sure you have a consistent message

In times of uncertainty, it’s the organisation’s responsibility to provide a level-headed and stable stance on the situation. To do so, you need to first define what the stance is exactly. This will obviously vary from one organisation to another. Second, you need to clearly communicate on it.

For the latter, we suggest running an official meeting to reveal the strategy and freely discuss it. It is a time when questions can and should be addressed. Make sure that every manager attends this meeting. This moment is key as it will instill the energy and plan of action for the months to come in the company.

It’s also a key opportunity to see how the plan is understood and embraced. We have seen that having the chance of rearranging the messaging thanks to early feedback can save a ton of additional work further down the line.

2/ Be transparent, let people express their feelings, fears… and address each of them

Thereafter, you will need to make sure this communication reaches every team and individual in the company. Enable some time for each team to hold a meeting and explain the situation and company strategy as well as tackle more operational questions. However, if you don’t have all the answers just admit it.

Here are some practical tips to be more prepared and effectively run this meeting:

  • Before the meeting, collect and analyse questions and feedback from your team. This will help deliver a highly relevant presentation based on the organisation’s decision as well as on the team’s interests and worries.
  • During the meeting, conducting a vote to validate the understanding of the message will go a long way in clarifying any doubts. You’ll also need to keep addressing all incoming questions. This is a unique way for you to get a direct feel from your employees and the message you are delivering.
  • After the meetings have been held analyse everything and address the lasts points that could have been left aside. And to make sure everything is clear, recap all the issues and their solutions in an email sent to all the company.

3/ Keep rumour at bay, and keep communicating on a regular basis

To really move forward, the whole organisation has to keep listening to employees on a day-to-day basis, not just during formal meetings. Some have an open door policy, others have started using services like Officevibe to gather employee feedback.

You could even suggest weekly smaller meetings or 1:1 with you line-manager when employees have shown interest – not all communications will come from the top managers. Their job is to take care of the big announcements and empower every “line manager” to answer questions from their teams without having to ask or refer to the top managers.

Whatever you choose, it’s important to continue having honest discussions with the staff, as it will prevent unfounded rumours spreading uncertainty amongst employees.

4/ Don’t take sides

The company needs to be at the centre of the discussions. Never forget that the focus should be on your mission and vision, and not on political views.

“Make sure your company knows what its mission is, remind your team of that goal and drive towards it.  Doing so puts uncertainty in its place as an unnecessary distraction from your company’s true potential.” says Lean Forward author Eric Holtzclaw.

 

The key is to keep all your communication consistent, disclose the options available to the company and explain the chosen strategy. Thereafter address one-by-one all the doubts and worries, all the while making sure that the message has been understood by everyone.

Change happens, from small changes to more structural ones like the Brexit, but the process remains the same regardless of the urgency of it.

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