Residential Practice in COVID

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Communication and Internal Messaging

Crisis management is about retaining the support of your stakeholders during difficult times.  Employees are your most important stakeholder group, and crisis can be exacerbated when there is a gap between employee expectations and practices/policies expressed by management in communication.  Ensuring that lines of communication are open quickly is therefore one of the most important first steps of managing during a crisis.  It is imperative to ensure that you are communicating and receiving communications from internal staff as well as other stakeholders.  Integrated communication should be undertaken directly via various communication channels. A combination of face-to-face and traditional channels at first should be followed up over time via group updates such as emailed updates, etc. Below are various communication channels, both face-to-face and traditional, that organizations have used:

Virtual Town Halls are one way that you can provide information to staff and clients quickly.  Using virtual town halls, the CEO and other members of the crisis management team can provide brief updates on happenings across the organization and offer opportunities for questions to be answered.  Questions can be elicited from staff or clients in advance of the Town Hall, which can provide opportunity to message answers in thoughtful ways.  During the Town Hall, a facilitator can be charged with tracking and reading questions that can come in via private chat or via text (for those participating on the telephone).  Having a facilitator reading questions allows for a more organized discussion (avoids multiple people talking at once) and provides a sense of anonymity to staff who may feel it necessary.  Questions and answers can be documented and then posted on the Intranet or a SharePoint page.

Virtual Team Meetings are another method of ensuring that lines of communication remain open.  Use Microsoft Teams to develop a team page where team members can upload information to share with one another or ask questions.  Weekly team meetings can provide an opportunity for managers to share information with the team related to the crisis and field questions that team members may have.  Virtual team meetings also provide opportunity for managers to elicit from team members ideas regarding managing certain aspects of the crisis, and can lift pertinent information to leadership within the organization.

Repositories of Information can be placed on the organization’s Intranet or a SharePoint page.  Information related to latest developments, policies and procedures, and resources for staff can be regularly uploaded onto the site in order to provide staff with constant access to information.  Such repositories provide staff with the ability to look things up themselves, and avoids inundating staff with information via email and overwhelming them further.  Links to these sites can be regularly emailed out to staff.

CEO “Fire Side” Video Messages are another method for communicating with staff.  Such video’s provide opportunity for to provide information regarding latest developments and address concerns that may have been raised by staff during other communication venues.  These video’s also provide opportunity for leadership to thank individuals, groups of individuals, or the entire community regarding their work during challenging times.  These videos can be disseminated frequently during the early phases of a crisis (perhaps weekly) and then be reduced in number as the crisis abates.

Posters, Printables, and Guidelines are also helpful in supporting protocols and other communications related to crisis management.  For example, posters related to “social distancing” can be posted in all residential buildings for youth, staff, and visitors.  Printable “one-pagers” and easily digestible guidelines can provide information at a glance for staff to understand protocols necessary for safety during a crisis.  These should not take the place of individual or group discussions, but can reiterate protocols and guidelines to be adhered to during the crisis.  They can also be referred to or used to organize trainings and other staff forums.



Communicating During a Crisis
Four Steps to Effectively Communicate in a Crisis
Guidelines for Effective Communication
Supervisory Practice Guidelines for Remote Staff
Supervisory Practice Guidelines for Non-Remote Staff