Communication has never been more important than it is now as we navigate our way through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leaders are now recognizing that keeping their teams engaged and focused during this time period is essential – and for the most part, it must be done remotely.  It’s time to make lemonade.

How do you set the right tone and communicate effectively during this pandemic?  Remember:

  1. People are People – that doesn’t change. While we may no longer be able to meet in person, shake hands, or embrace, we still need to be “high touch”.  That means increasing your communication through technology – Zoom Meetings, motivational text messages, reassuring phone calls, or emails that provide direction and guidance.
  2. Exude empathy – letting team members know that you know how it feels to be in this new normal is important. Use phrases like: “I know this is hard…” or “We are all experiencing the confusion of this moment…” or “Like you, I feel frustrated by…”
  3. Point to culture – When possible draw parallels between your company’s culture or values and the strengths needed to manage through this crisis. “Our culture is one that embodies innovation and positivity – those two qualities have never been needed more…”
  4. Recognize the effort – Many of your team members are doing things differently today. They are adapting to rapid change. Don’t forget the power of a ‘thank you’ for the efforts people are making that go above and beyond.
  5. Look to the future – While we need to focus intently on what is happening now, we can also keep people engaged by painting a picture of where we hope to be on the other side of this. Reminders that this is a temporary state and the future holds promise and possibility is key.  Hope matters.
  6. Make Lemonade – You know the old expression, when you get lemons, make lemonade. There is a positive side to COVID-19 and that needs to be revealed.  What are you noticing in your environment?  Has creativity sky-rocketed?  Have breakthroughs occurred despite the boundaries?  Are teams connecting more than ever before?  Highlight your success stories to build pride.
  7. Translate for your Team – we are all being inundated right now with a lot of information about COVID-19 and it can be overwhelming and confusing. Take the time to get up to speed on all pertinent information and simplify it for your team.  Think in hash tags#.  Boil it down to clear messages like – Be Smart and Stand Apart; Stay home, Save lives; Phone a friend when you need support; etc.
  8. Focus on what you can do – Don’t tip the scales by talking only about the restrictions and disruptions. Balance your message with reminders about what you can do to make a difference.  We can stay in touch with our customers.  We can connect and collaborate with our colleagues.  We can use this time to dive into some neglected projects.
  9. Find meaning – None of us expected to be living through a crisis like this. And as challenging as it is, we are learning and discovering new things about ourselves, each other and the world.  All of this will have been worth it if we can derive important life lessons and perhaps, ultimately, make the world a better place.

Communication has never been more important.  You can keep your team focused and engaged even in these uncertain times.