5 ways to communicate transparently
It’s easier to claim transparent communication than to follow through with it, particularly in times of major change that will negatively impact some employees. It can be difficult for the executive leadership team to agree on how much information to give employees, and there may be business reasons you’re not able to be completely transparent — but you can always be honest, and respectful, and even kind.
Here are five suggestions for how to share news with employees in a way that supports transparency and shows respect for employees.
Get out ahead of the rumor mill
Nature hates a vacuum, so in absence of communication from corporate, the rumor mill will fill that void, sometimes with theories that are worse than the truth. Don’t be tempted to believe that if you don’t bring it up, employees won’t either. They’ll be talking about it, whether internal communications address it or not.
Don’t sidestep the bad news
Explain what’s happening simply and clearly, and give employees a resource like the intranet to find more details. They’ll likely turn to their bosses with questions, so equip managers with FAQs, talking points and other communications tools, and possibly hold sessions with managers ahead of time to prepare them.
Give the business reasons for the bad news
When you frame the change in the business realities that require it, you take some of the emotion out of it. Treat employees like intelligent adults who can follow an explanation of cause and effect and understand why the business needs to respond with this specific change — even if it’s an unwelcome change
Explain how the change supports the vision
In addition to explaining the business reasons behind the change, help employees understand how this change better equips the company to fulfill its vision, mission or purpose. After the discomfort of the change is behind you, how will the change improve things for the company, employees or the world?
Apply the values to how people are treated
Use the change as an opportunity to demonstrate how the corporate values guide actions and decisions in your company. Whether the change involves factory closings or layoffs, an acquisition or merger, or change in employee benefits or compensation, communicate clear examples of how the values are being applied.