It’s very typical that small business owners are sometimes reluctant to communicate with their employees & staff when they don’t have good news or they don’t know exactly what to say. It could be related to any number of issues they are dealing with at the time:
- Financial issues
- Operational issues
- Personnel issues
- Market issues & conditions
- Client and/or customer issues
- Raises/Employee evaluations
- Internal strife
- External strife
These are just some of the examples that may present themselves from time to time or daily, in some cases.
When everything is going great, it is easier for an owner to communicate and let everyone know how well everything is going and how well they are doing because the news is positive.
When everything is not going as well or just plain terrible, the fear of communication sets in and that lack of communication can cause additional issues for owners and become detrimental to the business, employees & morale of the entire operation.
How communicating can make a situation easier to deal with:
Let me give you an example: I have been traveling for the last 18 years all over the country and have been on many, many flights during that time.
You are sitting on the tarmac, you are not moving and nothing is happening and no one is saying a word as to why. You wait & wait & wait until you finally move. It is extremely frustrating and can ruin the trip before it gets started.
However, if you are sitting on the tarmac and the pilot comes on the speaker and says, “Folks, we are waiting for 4 planes to clear before we can taxi out to the runway to take off. It looks like it will be around 20 minutes or so before they clear. I will keep you informed if there are any changes.”
You are still sitting on the tarmac and delayed in both cases, but the communication provides information and makes it a far easier situation to deal with.
This is the same dynamic within your companies and with your employees!
When things are not going well, you need to put extra emphasis on communicating to them, even if the news is not the best. It’s not the time to shy away. They will appreciate the communication and possibly a strategy to deal with the negative development and/or developments. You will also build much stronger overall morale with improved & increased communication, which will impact the entire organization.
As a general policy, in good times & bad times, you should make communication a top level priority in your company across the board from top to bottom and from bottom to top. Many times, it’s such a simple issue and too many owners discount it as a real solution to many of their problems. Don’t be one of those owners!
You will not be judged because the times are difficult, you will be judged on how you deal with the difficult times. Ask yourself now:
How do you deal with difficult times?
Are the communication levels within your company where you want them to be?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Terry McGill is a small business consultant and managing partner of Strategic Business Directs.