The Entrepreneur: Communicating a difficult message

Posted by admin at 15:51 on 13 Feb 2017


One of the most frequently asked and most deeply felt questions from leaders of businesses, is “how to communicate a difficult message?”

For example, how do you communicate the need to improve efficiency or keep a tight rein on costs? It seems, naturally enough, that good messages are easy to convey and we all want to be on the soapbox, but when times are tougher... you can guess the rest.

There are no secrets to this. It’s about talking clearly about the issues and the goals and being unafraid to trust. The vast majority of people are sensible, level-headed, loyal and generally selfless. So why is it that management in a corner sometimes assume the opposite? This is not and must never be adversarial. There is no room for “them and us” in a crisis... or ever.

How you communicate has to be your personal choice and style. You can’t do this from a book, but you can think about these five things. They’re all important to your team.

  • Talk openly – or your people will assume it’s worse than it is - Communication is soothing, almost whatever you say. Natural reactions are to feel privileged to know, to feel involved, to begin to see the purpose. These are powerful, positive emotions that will help you.
  • Get amongst people - This is so obvious you’d think it shouldn’t be here. But I have to say it because closed office doors and barred head office suites are not the places for leaders of a business. Remember that if the drawbridge is up, everybody knows there’s a siege. Or that you may be scared of your own team, which is even worse.
  • Be human - Make sure people know more about you than just the day job. It’s far easier to relate to someone if they know about your kids, sport, whatever....and learn the same in return. It’s about including people, as people.
  • Know your stars, make them leaders - Others can do this, too. Find out who and let them help.....and get some time back for the things you really have to do yourself.
  • Share the upside - Why not? Is it any coincidence that two of the most recent reported results success stories are Savills and John Lewis? If we’re saying we’re all in this together, we’d better mean it.

Andy Raynor authors the blog "Beyond the Brief" which can be found here.