Annex E: Building credibility
Are you in touch with the concerns and needs of your staff? One of the most important factors in successful change communications is having a high level of trust between staff and their supervisors. Here are six tips for building your credibility:
- Share information frequently:
- Make a point of sharing information with staff so that they’re aware of what’s happening within the organization and the broad GC. Each individual is a potential ambassador for the organization and change initiative.
- Make your team aware of news and updates through regular communication.
- Be accessible to staff:
- Top supervisors make sure that people within the organization see them as fellow colleagues. To be able to trust, colleagues need to feel some sense of what kind of people are leading the Defence Team. This cannot be done unless people have the opportunity to see the leaders themselves and interact with them.
- Make yourself available staff. Have an open-door policy and engage with staff more readily. Have informal meetings with colleagues, or ad-hoc MS Team calls to show your staff you are around and available.
- Don’t be afraid to answer hard questions:
- It is not enough to share information and be personally accessible. Leaders of the best workplaces understand the need to face difficult questions from staff and set up a variety of mechanisms to provide this opportunity. If leaders cannot provide an answer immediately, they should make certain that a timely response is provided. Leaders should make themselves available for genuine dialogue with staff, with the emphasis being on two-way communication.
- Be prepared to listen to staff and to discuss issues in a polite and sensitive manner. Set up opportunities to make this happen; for example, digital ‘town hall’ meetings, or informal “digital” lunch meetings with select staff. Be sure to know their comfort zone e.g. Zoom, MS Teams versus a phone call.
- Deliver on promises:
- Closely related to credibility, are integrity and the ability to ‘walk the talk’. People do not believe someone, no matter how well that person’s communication skills, unless he or she follows through on promises. Trust will only follow if promises are met.
- Make a list of every promise that is made and check that these are delivered. If a promise hasn’t been delivered, find out why and inform people so they are kept aware of what’s going on. Remember, people who are kept aware of events become more trusting.
- Show recognition and appreciation:
- To genuinely extend their trust, leaders should demonstrate to colleagues that they have their best interests at heart. Top employers make a special effort to say ‘thank you’ in a variety of ways to colleagues. Appreciated colleagues will tend to be happy colleagues. Be sure to highlight achievements and thank them while acknowledging the unique and unprecedented situation. Thank them for their resilience and ongoing patience.
- If people do well, thank them; don’t just assume that they know they are doing a good job!
- Demonstrate personal concern and interest:
- Leaders who show a sincere and genuine interest in their staff – as a person and not just as a colleague – will gain trust faster than those who do not. In particular, people are especially concerned with how they will be treated when faced with a personal matter or change – such as limited child care, a dependent at home, etc. The best supervisors find ways to show genuine concern and empathy in those circumstances. This will also directly impact whether the individual may be able to return to the workplace, and is a very important discussion to have.
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