In Time of Crisis, Leaders Must Communicate Carefully and Thoughtfully

Most of us likely never anticipated being in the throes of a pandemic, but here we are. The potential loss of life and economic impact is unknown, and that has led to fear. This is completely understandable. These are challenging times complicated by the dynamics of social media and political in-fighting.

Your financial institution is part of the lifeblood of your community, regardless of your asset class. You’re counted on in this time of crisis, so your audience is watching you closely, be it your employees, members, or business partners.

Here are some communication reminders that I find helpful.

Credible Sources Are Key

You can’t react to each and every bit of “breaking news”. The sheer volume of news being transmitted is astounding with the bulk likely coming from unreliable sources. In time of crisis, look for credible sources at the Federal, State, and Local government level. Sharing uncreditable information will impact your credibility.

Be Human

Being human means it is ok to appear somewhat vulnerable. Uncertainty is often a reality in time of crisis, so remaining honest is important. Just as you don’t want to spread panic, you don’t want to ignore the facts. You and your audience are in this together and you share their concerns and vulnerabilities.

Offer Assurance

Communicate what you and your organization are doing to mitigate risk or actions you are taking to support your market. But do so in a careful and thoughtful manner. Remember, your efforts can be interpreted. If you are taking actions based on advice from credible sources, always pause before doing so and consider possible interpretations. Every action should offer some level of assurance.

Be Available

Leaders should always be accessible. Stay engaged with your employees and all constituents. Maintain some level of visibility using any form you are comfortable with. Your availability and visibility will support assurance.

Leverage Expertise

Don’t quote amateurs in your communications. Only echo news or advice coming from credible sources. With social media being as it is, it’s way too easy to share invalid information. Think before you share anything.

Be Consistent

People are looking for level heads at this moment in time. Being consistent is critically important in all forms of communications, but evermore in crisis communications.

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The weeks ahead will be challenging for us all, and a period of uncertainty to say the least. Let’s just remember we are in this together, no matter where you are, or what you do. But if you are in a position to lead, what and how you say it, is now more important than ever.

By Bryan Clagett

Originally published on CUInsight