Leadership and Communication in a Time of Change and Uncertainty

November 24, 2020

By Alexa Scudillo

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Leaders Today

The challenges leaders are faced with now include managing a team of people during a pandemic and the rise of new generations entering the workforce. Both of these are challenges that force them to work for goals larger than themselves. Current information tells us that leaders are expected to be strategists in times like these and evolve with their surroundings in order to continue to further their team’s success. Leaders in all occupations are called to make hard choices, earn and maintain respect, know their team, and more. None of these endeavors can be fulfilled without having clear communication between team members and team leaders.

Communication in Troubled Times

During crisis people look to authority for guidance and stability in the workplace, which calls for leaders be the catalyst for such. The following are methods leaders can use to communicate with their teams in an uncertain environment.

Find a method of communication and communicate often. In troubled times, it is vital that leaders communicate often with their teams, even if they have little or no new information to share. To do so, find the best way to communicate with each team member. This method of communication should be one that works best for both parties and considers that people are currently working from home. Working from home brings its own obstacles for both employees and leaders. When communicating with team members, be mindful of these challenges when providing feedback.

Give individuals and the team feedback more than usual. Even in a stable environment, leaders must take note of what is or is not impacting productivity. When trouble arises, closely examine and make note of trends in productivity. Feedback should include successes and achievements on both an individual basis and collectively as a team. Include what is working and what may be hindering productivity in these circumstances, and develop a plan for the future based on what has been proven to work.

Develop a strategy based on success trends. Trends in feedback lend themselves to the development of a strategy that paves the way for the team’s future. Leaders need to communicate a strategy that is  based on proven results. Asking for input from those who have continued productivity during challenging times allows leaders to create a plan for continued success for the team. It also gives a sense of value to those who contribute their ideas.

Communicating to a New Generation of Employees

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2018 millennials make up 35% of the workforce, with Generation Z fast on their heels. A recent study examined the values of millennials in the workplace compared to what the perception older generations have of values of millennials in the workplace. Findings suggest that there is an overwhelming gap between what millennials value and the principles previous generations believe are engraved in their values. There is some implication that a third of the workforce is largely misunderstood, which can be detrimental to communication in work spaces that contain a number of generations. In order to communicate with this new generation of employees, leaders must understand there values. Current information suggests the following key points for leaders when communicating with millennials and Gen Z in the workplace:

  1. Establish a medium for day-to-day communication that works best for the leader AND the employee. Gen Z is characterized as being steeped in technology. Most of the people entering the workforce today grew up using an iPhone. Therefore, there may be preferred forms of communication that differ from traditional ones. It might be beneficial to establish a form of communication that works best for both parties.
  2. In any conversation with millennials and younger, keep it brief but meaningful. The days of bribing employees solely with pay raises are evaporating. Leaders today face a generation of people who want their work to have meaning. It becomes vital that every task has a tangible and reachable goal. By including the purpose of a task before assigning it, leaders will keep their employees engaged, resulting higher job satisfaction and retention.
  3. Create a space that encourages younger employees to add their input. They are there for a reason, and they were hired for their talent. Nurture that talent by asking for input from younger employees during team meetings and projects. Younger employees may feel shy and that their inexperience may take away from their credibility. By validating their voice in this space, leaders are gaining insight from the opinions and values of younger generations and can engage a task from multiple viewpoints. At the same time, leaders are assigning purpose and value to their new/young employees.

It is nevermore important that organizational leaders understand their roles in communicating within their teams. Any message is in no doubt influenced by its delivery channels. A new generation of employees is graduating into the workforce at an exciting rate, all while the world is suffering unfavorable conditions. Therefore, it is crucial to know how to deliver your message in a way that opens up a pathway of clear and receivable communication.

https://hbr.org/2020/07/5-tips-for-communicating-with-employees-during-a-crisis

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/11/millennials-largest-generation-us-labor-force/


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