3. Put People at the Center of Your Communications to Make Messages Resonate
Communicating with retail teams can be difficult, especially when it’s easy to get distracted by the many impacts of the COVID-19 crisis during this time. And, whether employees are cognizant of it or not, it’s challenging to focus on what matters most when they’re inundated with information.
So, to make internal communications stick, make the focus of your messages people at the store level and how any updates affect them.
For stores that remain open (or operate in a limited capacity) during the COVID-19 crisis, each day is filled with new facts, guidelines and resources to parse through, and it can be hard for retail teams to identify which information is still relevant from one week to the next.
When crafting communications, take a human angle. Describe how the work they do impacts customers (and the world around them) during this difficult time. Or, in the case of changes to standard operating procedures, share an anecdote illustrating a common pain point certain employees are facing because of the COVID-19 crisis, and explain how your company is attempting to alleviate them. Doing so helps reinforce company goals and standards, and shows your organization cares about people, not just products and profits.
4. Be Prepared to Change Tact and Messaging When Necessary
The COVID-19 crisis is constantly evolving. With so many updates from public health officials and developments arising every day, it’s challenging to stay on top of occupational health and safety guidelines, mitigate risk and make the right decisions while remaining open.
But it’s impossible to have all the answers, which is why it’s important — both from a crisis communications and management standpoint — to practice intellectual humility. Recontextualize information as time goes on, rather than stick to outdated insights or previous decisions based on pure intuition.
McKinsey’s Gemma D’Auria and Aaron De Smet cite “updating” information as it develops and “doubting” previous notions as essential cognitive skills retail leaders need to master during a crisis, and it’s fair to think that those behaviors have a big effect when communicating with retail teams during the COVID-19 crisis as well.
With business operations changing every day, it’s essential to ensure each interaction is meaningful and relevant, so associates don’t get bogged down with useless or outdated information.