The unpredictability of COVID-19, has pushed W7Worldwide to work towards developing a guide covering how CEOs can safely lead their organization through Phase 2 of the crisis. This is the management phase between the containment of the crisis and things beginning to ease and recover. An uncertain wait and see phase with its own unique communications challenges along the way for CEOs and business leaders.
Around the world, governments, business and industry are rising to the enormous challenge of managing the COVID-19 crisis. From one country to another, certain quarantine restrictions are carefully being eased, while others are still at lockdown stage. After several weeks of reacting and learning to adapt to the immediate impact of the crisis, we have reached a new phase where stakeholders want to know about well-being, job security, financial consequences and business continuity.
CEOs must steer through changes in business pattern, new ways of delivering products and services, research new technologies and rethink their entire marketplace. Along the COVID-19 crisis cycle of disruption, management and recovery, there are still many potential difficulties businesses face, such as cost savings, lay-offs, furloughs or other short-term and long-term impacts.
Empathize with your employees
Leading with compassion and empathy is critical now more than ever. Employees seek encouragement, shareholders want performance and customers expect uninterrupted service but with additional safety measures. Providing reassurance should be the central principle to all stakeholder communications at this stage.
‘CEOs have had to adopt a new way of communicating that is more considerate, empathetic and adjusted in tone from a linguistic perspective.’ explains Abdulrahman Inayat, Co-Founder of Communications Agency W7Worldwide’. ‘They must carefully balance the need to drive business performance with the need to be sensitive. The pandemic has translated into a new global language of speaking to internal and external stakeholders who are worrying about what will happen next.’
Everything CEOs do and communicate is currently scrutinized by the public and media more than usual. CEOs need to show that they are sharing the pain, be authentic and human, resonating with the new realities for employees, customers and the community. Employees remain a key stakeholder group that requires regular communication. W7Worldwide’s Guide on Employee Engagement in COVID-19 provides the framework for companies to adopt to keep their teams informed, loyal, motivated and engaged during the crisis.
Public and private sector collaboration
COVID-19 is a considerable new responsibility for the corporate sector who now needs to team up with government to restart the economy. Governments have had to rely on companies to step forward quickly to provide key workers, essential supplies and services. Neither business nor government can go this alone, so CEOs should be proactive in their public affairs efforts at a time when governments are looking for solutions.
New challenges ahead
This is a crisis beyond the experience of most CEOs who now need to strike the right tone of caution coupled with forward-paced optimism and confidence. CEOs with a longer-term approach will spark innovations and effective leaders have the opportunity to shape a meaningful story for their organization at this generation-defining moment.
COVID-19 resource centre
As part of its efforts to support organizations through the COVID-19 Crisis, W7 Worldwide has set up a dedicated Resource Centre with a series of regularly updated expert Corporate Communications Guides. The agency’s experienced Crisis Communications team provides CEO Counsel to both local and international clients, helping them formulate and implement their COVID-19 communications strategies. For more information and to download the Guide to CEO Communications in Phase 2 of COVID-19 visit www.w7worldwide.com.