I felt comfortable with the messaging I had sent via mass email to those involved with the our office process changes related to COVID-19. I knew it was broad and addressed our current state of affairs. I had included administration, colleagues, staff members, and anyone that I believed would benefit. Minus a few one-off questions, I anticipated that I had done my job sending crisis communications and settled in to do “real” work.
My first email told me I had it all wrong. As I looked at the email with it’s tense and harried tenor, I was admittedly irritated. I had addressed this very topic in my massive email two days before to my largest distribution list. Didn’t people read any more?!
Here’s the reality - even if people take the time to read our well thought out, long, and hairy emails with bullet lists and paragraphs of knowledge, crisis prevents easy processing of messages. In times of crisis, your message must be repeated again, and again, and again. And again.
Patrick Lencioni said it best, “Be the chief repeating officer. Keep articulating goals, objectives, mission, etc. If you don’t no one else will.”
This doesn’t mean you send out the same message every other day in the hopes that people actually read it this time, it means you consistently touch on the same group again and again while changing the words but keeping the same message.
It’s up to you as the chief repeating officer to keep the culture strong, and in a remote environment without a consistent message the culture naturally fragments into everyone’s individual sequestered thoughts. That’s not culture, that’s anarchy, and no team survives anarchy.