Communicating Effectively – How to Craft the Right Messaging for Your Team

During times like these communicating effectively should be a priority for any team, and as an Organisational Culture specialist I have recommended that my clients use a practical conversational model utilising the SCARF model. You may have heard of the concept of the SCARF model, but not in this sense.

Leaders are receiving more than usual messaging from various sources. Whether it be from daily crisis team updates, internal communications and information on the internet due to the unexpected business as ‘unusual’ way of working, which has been in response to Covid-19.

As a leader, knowing what messaging to share with your team and what not to share in this time of high anxiety is critical. Not only will it have a positive impact on your team’s morale, it will also affect your organisational and team culture.

If you are facing a barrage of information and unsure of what or how to relay it to your team, this is your guide. 

David Rock’s SCARF Model explained: 

Status – Relative importance to others – I am important

Certainty – Ability to know and predict the future – I know where I stand

Autonomy – Sense of control over events – I have a choice

Relatedness – Sense of safety with others – I belong

Fairness – Fair exchanges between people – I am valued and treated with respect

Using David Rock’s SCARF Model, here are some suggestions to assist your organisation lead more effectively through any current uncertainty.

Status: Relative importance to others – I am important. Humans need stability and a sense of status in the workplace.

Tip: Remind your employees that you need them now more than ever. While you are working out how to manage your organisation, people’s roles may change to accommodate the new needs that the COVID 19 pandemic brings.

Consider: How you can allay fears to the best of your ability and confirm the need for your team as the experts that they are.

Certainty: Ability to know and predict the future – I know where I stand.

Tip: A lot is uncertain. What is certain is that you will keep your teams informed. You will do the best that you can for them and your customers.

Consider: what you can share with your employees regarding what is certain: types of leave available, your employee assistance program in times of high anxiety, the stance you are taking whether it be business as usual or new ways of working.

Autonomy: Sense of control over events – I have a choice

Tip: While a lot is uncertain, there is an opportunity for your team to “job scape.” This concept was introduced to me by one of my Coachees. She has started to craft her role in the current climate, keeping in mind what can be done and what can’t be done. What needs to be paused (but ready to work on once we get the all clear.) Now is a good time to open up the to-do-list that you’ve been putting off.   

Consider: While we move more to flexible working options, consider the aspects of employees’ roles which are autonomous. What do you trust your employees on continuing to achieve and focus on? How are you going to hold your team accountable remotely? How are you going to manage yourself in accepting that productivity may drop? (As a leader, refrain from micromanaging remotely.)

Relatedness: Sense of safety with others – I belong

Tip: Flexible work options may isolate people unintentionally.

Consider: We need to belong to a group, it is human nature. Consider how you have team meetings and check-ins remotely. Technology will help: MS Teams, Slack, Zoom and so much more.

Fairness: Fair exchanges between people – I am valued and treated with respect

Tip: Fairness results in equitable decisions per case, not a blanket one rule for all approach.  

Consider: While you are creating new rules, policies and practices consider fair options for all. In Western Australia, the law requires employers to provide a high standard of safety and health at their workplaces and ensure, as far as practicable, that employees are not injured or harmed because of their work and you as a leader have that duty of care. Consider what you are doing to ensure equity for all in your decision making.

It is time to act as a Leader more than a Manager. Your employees are looking to you for direction and security.

Find below a conversation planner that you can use to craft your messaging.

Prina Shah
Culture Change and Leadership Development

Prina is a specialist in coaching, consulting or training on managing your organisational culture, developing your leaders, your human resources area and your people.  If you are interested in Prina’s background and workshops please click here.