How Leaders Keep Lines of Communication Open During Hectic Times

Article contributed by Val Boudreau

When those who attend our Principles of Leadership series are asked to list their top five leadership/management challenges, communication is one of the top two. It’s a vital leadership skill, but when times are hectic, it’s even more critical but can still be equally as challenging. As managers/leaders/supervisors we need to be out front with communication, we need to keep the lines of communication open and sometimes we need to deliver the tough messages. When things get hectic we need to resist the impulsive urge and instead take a step back and be purposeful and thoughtful about communication.

How do we keep communication lines open when times are hectic? Below are some tips you may find helpful:

  • Create a communication-friendly environment | set the expectation by demonstrating open, honest, friendly communication – whether in person or through tools like Slack, Teams or Zoom. Be authentic and encourage your team to be as well. Demonstrate approachability so you build trust and people aren’t afraid to raise issues, problems or concerns.
  • Keep communication constant | for work goals and performance have regular 1:1s with each staff member, keep on top of work by having regular staff meetings where your team updates each other. This is also a way to keep the group connected.
  • Ask for feedback | provide opportunities for your employees to give you feedback – this may be on your performance as a manager, or your people providing feedback on ideas, input on strategy, how to distribute the work etc.
  • Practice and demonstrate listening | speak less, listen more – you know the adage about two ears and one mouth! When you listen through really actively listen – paraphrase, maintain eye contact, ask clarifying questions, suspend judgement, never interrupt and use silence creatively.
  • Find out how your employees like to communicate | ask your employees individually:
    • What is the best way to share feedback with you? 
    • What is most important to you about communication at work? 
    • What do you find difficult about communicating?

These tips not only help you to keep communication open, but it also enhances and builds trust with your team. Building rapport and trust is showing a genuine interest in your people, empathizing with their roadblocks or dilemmas, and following through on the ways you say you will help. When you demonstrate trust in them and respect, they in turn will trust and respect you.