Q: I manage a small company and am trying very hard to engage with my employees. After months at home, I don’t seem to get through to them and often ask myself is anybody listening? Employee fatigue is not helping. I would welcome any help (BC, email).
A: Fatigue and shorter attention span are some of the effects of this pandemic, but are we helping with over engaging and communicating? That’s a question we all need to ponder, writes Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.
It’s a tricky time for all of us, employers and employees. Navigating the new rules of work is leaving us exhausted. As a manager, you may have kept communication going but have this feeling when you talk that nobody is listening.
I have recently been asked to give a 15-minute talk to an important client. They want me to engage a small audience with two very broad topics while mentioning another three areas. That’s a big challenge and requires a good bit of planning and preparation to get people listening.
But they are right, why ask someone to speak on the same topics for a full hour when it can be done in 15 minutes?
Here are a few points to help you think of new ways of communicating:
Think about these two questions: why am I engaging? And what is in it for them? Focus on a message that is going to make their work or day better or easier. This will ultimately benefit the company as a whole.
If you share a lot of information and detail over a long call you will lose attention very quickly. If something is not clear you may not be asked to clarify, and if you wait to the end to give the main point nobody will really be there with you. So, get straight to the point at the beginning, engage with the listeners and ask for feedback and queries on new developments.
Provide ‘snacks’ of information
Short and sweet. Follow the ‘less is more’ mantra. Think of the main message you want to convey. Use that ‘one’ idea when preparing presentations, meetings or emails.
Explore different ways of communicating. Different people engage and learn in different ways. Here are a few ideas:
- Short videos – think Tik-Tok: deliver a message in a few seconds. Using your voice or face will help.
- Infographics – use easy tools like Canva to show a new strategy, development or management structure.
- 1:1 calls – employees will benefit from a private and confidential chat. Not everybody is comfortable on a group video call. And they have different challenges. Use this as an opportunity to get feedback.
- Employee-led communication – ask your employees to share their insights in whichever form they wish. Create a platform where information is created and shared.
- Ask for ideas – check with your team what is working for them and what is not. Take their feedback on board even if it is not positive. Be honest and share that you are trying your best to address all issues.
To conclude, I would urge you to be mindful of your employee’s time and health. You don’t have to be ‘doing something’ all the time. Maybe a Zoom-free day per week will be very welcome – a day when you don’t communicate with each other at all?
Ines Gonzalez is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers.
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