Company in Crisis? Change Your Communication (and Maybe Your Leadership, Too)!

Whether it’s a slow time with layoffs and downsizing, a pandemic, a natural disaster, too much unexpected competition, or something else altogether, there are all kinds of ways a company can end up in crisis. When that happens, a company that’s not prepared won’t know what to do. That can lead to problems with everything internally from leadership to employees and externally from marketing to customer service. There’s a lot that can be done to improve things, when handled correctly.

One of the ways to potentially bring a company out of crisis is with a change in leadership that fuels new ideas and more options. Bringing new leadership into a company during a time of crisis isn’t always easy, but there are ways to have a transition that’s smoother and with less upheaval. With a lot of employees still working remotely, another consideration is how to team build and enhance culture during that time.

That’s right, workplace culture can be improved during difficult times, if it’s done right.

There are plenty of challenges going on in the workplace today, between remote work and crisis issues, that may require leadership changes. But fortunately, there are ways to make adjustments that will work for the remote workers, the company, and the incoming (and outgoing) leadership, all at the same time. Consider these keys:

Bringing in New Leaders During Crisis Times

If your company has leadership no longer works for it, choosing new leadership may be the best way to handle things. Bringing in new leaders during a time of crisis can produce an energy shift in the company. That’s especially true if the old leadership had toxic traits or was poor at communication. Employees and customers need to feel valued. Effective leaders can provide that.

During a time of crisis, though, changing leadership can either provide relief or feel like one more thing to worry about. Which way it goes for your company will depend mostly on how the transition is handled. Strong communication during that time of change can be a great way to ensure the leadership transition is as smooth as possible. There may still be stress, which is normal with change, but it will be greatly reduced by focusing on the benefits of a leadership change to mitigate the company’s crisis.

To bring in new leadership during a time of crisis, it’s not just about communication. It’s also about the specific style of the leaders chosen, who chose them, and how smooth the transition actually is for everyone involved. It is only natural employees approach a leadership change with apprehension, especially when they’re already in crisis. But if the crisis has been ongoing or developing for some time, then having new leadership could definitely feel positive, as well.

Enhancing Culture and Building Teams When Working Remotely

Another area of concern for companies in crisis, or those that are headed that direction, is company culture and how employees interact with one another. Even the best leadership in the world may not be as effective as possible if it doesn’t have the workforce culture it needs to help the company grow. Workplace culture typically needs a lot of employee interaction and bonding.

That said, how do you build a team with remote employees? No one is gathering in the break room to talk about lives outside of work. There are no team lunches or birthday parties at the office. It’s not the kind of environment that promotes cohesion. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on building teams or enhancing the company culture. Both of those things can absolutely be done, and they can be done well. They might just take a little more time and effort than in-person options would require.

There is no reason to settle for a disjointed company where the workers don’t seem to bond, though. Help them connect by focusing on the ways they can still feel close to one another. Beyond Zoom calls or Skype meetings, there are ways staff members can feel connected online. Employees should be encouraged to communicate with one another and interact in the virtual world as much as possible. Many companies have virtual “water cooler” options that make it easier for employees to talk to one another, too.

Creating Impactful Communication Amidst Challenging Times

How do you energize an organization even in tough times? With communication. Issues with leadership and concerns the lack of bonding between remote workers are valid. But at the end of the day, they all come down to communication. If the new leaders aren’t effective communicators or don’t know how to hire and work with people who have those skills, their leadership efforts may fall flat. They might not be as well-received, even if they have great ideas and a lot to offer to the company.

The same is true for remote workers and their ability to build teams and bond with one another. If they only interact via email or chat and they don’t discuss anything but “just the facts” for their working relationships, it can be hard for them to learn anything about one another. Seeing faces via video calls can help, as can encouraging virtual get-togethers and celebrations for things like a coworker’s birthday or significant company milestones. These connections can still offer value. If there’s no way to get the workforce together in person, online is definitely better than not at all.

Even with new leadership and a better bonding experience for remote workers, effective communication must stay strong. Good communication efforts can help pull a company out of crisis. But ongoing quality communication is still required for the company to stay clear of crisis—or at least be able to handle the next one when it comes along. Sometimes, especially if they affect the industry as a whole, issues, conflicts and problems with a company are inevitable and can’t be avoided.

Quality leadership and workers that bond together as a cohesive team are two great ways to strengthen companies in crisis. In addition, focus on quality communication in and out of the workplace. When a company doesn’t have good communication from leadership to employees, from employee to employee and from company to consumers, it demonstrates an inability to move forward or to maintain pace with the competition.

Lewis University  offers a quality M.A. in Organizational Leadership, including a concentration in an ACTP-certified Professional and Executive Coaching and a highly regarded Training and Development concentration. These or other programs from Lewis can equip you with the skillset and knowledge for how to lead or change leadership in times of crisis for your company or organization.

See how Lewis University’s M.A. in Organizational Leadership can help you help your team members through crisis and an always changing future.

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