Speech is silver, silence is gold. This saying does not hold much water in times of crisis. Actually, remaining silent is probably the worst tactic a company can adopt when going through a storm.
During a recession, the managers’ transparency is more important than ever, according to Florent Francoeur, CEO of the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés. “The employees are worried and are inquisitive. Rumours and secrets are the worst enemies.”
Mr. Francœur has noticed that workers have a long memory. “If the managers are transparent during a period of instability, the employees will be grateful and will remember for a long time.”
When to reveal your hand?
Managers should inform their staff as soon as they have a clear idea of the situation the company is in. “If the employer takes too much time to share the information, the best people will be tempted to leave” warns Richard Chénier, HR Consultant with COSE, a personnel management consulting firm.
Jean-Yves Le Louarn, Professor at the HEC’s Department of Human Resources Management, insists upon the importance of being ahead of the rumours. “Strangely, when a boss knows something, there is often a leak. And the information going around is not always right.”
How to do it?
Before making an announcement to the staff that the company is going through hard times, the managers must set up a communications strategy and an outline of the proposed solutions. “The goal is to ensure that the same message is being shared with all of the employees”, concludes Florent Francœur.