Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil?

ElectricianFor those that work in the electrical sector, or those who depend on electrical contractors on site, it will be an interesting week this week.

With electricians rejecting the latest pay offer from contractors, there could be strike action ahead, which will not only affect the M&E sector but could cause disarray across the whole construction delivery chain.

From a business continuity perspective the possibility of strikes will require careful planning and it will be important to put contingency plans in place in case they do happen.

It’s a situation that also demands close attention to the communication challenges ahead. Not only do contractors need to manage customer expectations and retain a positive brand image, they also need to ensure internal stakeholder communications play their role in minimising the impact of the electricians’ grievances, whether strikes go ahead or not.

While most companies invest time thinking about how they will communicate positive events in their business, few plan how they will control the messages when things are not going quite so well.  Many also fail to ensure they communicate with integrity and consistency to their own team, which can lead to an information void filled with gossip and hearsay.

While the business of communicating through challenging times may be unpalatable, it is, nonetheless, essential. Moreover, it becomes much easier when it has been planned in advance.

For example, if your company already has processes in place to cascade information through the organisation, collect employee feedback and communicate important news, those structures will be available and familiar when times are tough.  That means that you can focus on the messages rather than how you’re going to get them across.

Regular communication with staff, or any stakeholders for that matter, also means that the dialogue is already open, which ensures both established communication channels and established trust.

The use of the word ‘dialogue’ in that sentence is important, however. True communication is not just about broadcasting what you want to say but also about listening to your stakeholders and responding accordingly.  And that’s never more important than in a crisis. So when you’re planning ahead for how you will communicate and who you need to communicate with, make sure you create a platform for them to talk to you too.

Hopefully strike action can be avoided and a deal can be brokered that suits both sides of the electrician/contractor divide.  If it can’t, let’s hope those affected are planning now for how they’ll communicate as the situation unfolds.

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