Business leadership has truly been put to the test as our country continues to navigate the health and economic crisis caused by a global pandemic. Executive teams are juggling everything from the financial health of their organization to the management of their remote employees.
We’re continuing our client spotlight series this week, featuring experts we work with to provide unique perspectives and guidance for businesses and their employees.
This week, we had the opportunity to speak with Michael Reddington, an expert forensic interviewer and the President of InQuasive, Inc. which provides businesses and leaders with the tools they need to improve their leadership by activating the truth in all of their business interactions.
Zilker Media: How should business executives and managers adapt their communication during this crisis?
Michael: Stay positive.
When I say be positive, I don’t mean lie or be fake about the reality of this situation. Rather, don’t bring all the doom and gloom that you as a decision-maker have to deal with every day into the lives of your employees. Everyone understands the situation is terrible, so take the opportunity instead to share what the company is doing to survive, pivot and reinvent itself in the face of these challenges.
Zilker Media: What advice do you have for business leaders communicating tough decisions they have to make to keep the business moving forward?
Michael: I think it’s so important to be transparent about the decision making processes at your organization and over-communicate the “why” behind an action.
Research shows that people judge the trustworthiness of a message in as little as 100 milliseconds and spend the rest of the conversation actively looking for information that confirms these snap judgments. When leaders start by telling people what has to happen, they invite assumptions of their intentions and motivations. When leaders begin their messages by illustrating the goal behind their actions, they create opportunity for their employees to buy in before hearing what must happen next.
Zilker Media: What’s one aspect of employee engagement that you think leaders could better understand?
Michael: Executives tend to lead by attempting to reaffirm behaviors or affect behavior change. While this approach makes sense for the goals of a leader, it overlooks the perspective of the employee. Typically, people are more motivated to support their own ideas, beliefs and behaviors than they are to listen to business leaders explain why they should change.
So when you’re planning on making an address to your employees, rather than considering why they should believe you, you should ask yourself why they shouldn’t.
More likely than not, that is the first idea coming to their mind that you need to counteract. We as humans are naturally critical.
I think this is especially important when it comes to the current remote working environment and all the new policies being created out of it.
Michael Reddington is President of InQuasive, Inc., authority on ethical persuasion and a keynote speaker. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter for more insight on business leadership and organizational trust.