How will we make sure that we have stronger, more inclusive relationships than we did prior to the crisis?
If there’s one thing that the recent global crisis has done, it has given us all a shared experience and blurred the divisions among people. This “shared wound,” as a recent article in Research Live called it, has caused all of us to become vulnerable in some way. The pandemic forced us to behave differently and view the world - both personal and on a larger scale - in a new way.
In the Research Live piece, author Michael Brown brings up some great points about how company leaders can help their staff to get through the current situation. From creating open communication channels to focusing on well-being, he writes about some universal truths that provide touchpoints when dealing with internal audiences and external ones.
Well-being: Brown writes that health and wellbeing should be a “business priority.” Employers can create avenues to support employees’ health - both physical and mental - by implementing formal programs and by building trust so that everyone feels comfortable discussing these sensitive issues. As we all seek to connect with one another, make it a priority to look beyond employees, and also check in on the wellbeing of your colleagues, partners, vendors, and even your clients. They could need the extra support. You don’t have to be in a leadership role to bolster the well-being of those around you. He writes: “Check up on people who have been off the radar.”
Sharing: Create an environment in which sharing thoughts and ideas is easy and intuitive. This needs to be at the top of your list as a market researcher and applies to internal teams and projects and the environment we provide to our respondents. For years, we’ve been trying to find ways to encourage consumers to share opinions and emotions, so we have quality data. Short surveys, mobile-friendly questionnaires, automated profiling, video answers - so many implementations to help facilitate sharing. As qualitative methods are moving primarily online, it is even more important to put this concept into practice and at the top of your list. Put yourself in your respondents' shoes and approach them in a way that will encourage them to share.
Words: Are you sick of hearing “new normal” or “unprecedented times”? These phrases undoubtedly describe exactly what we’re going through, but they have worn out their welcome at this point. Brown says to avoid “lazy language,” as some of these words and phrases tend to intensify feelings of helplessness. When leadership speaks with employees, they definitely need to provide concrete plans and real-life strategies for how to work right now and what to expect in the future. The same can be said for how we are communicating with our stakeholders and consumers. Being precise with our language is important. We must acknowledge that many people are still in the midst of dealing with the crisis (without being trite) and assure audiences that life will carry on - even if we don’t know what the future may hold.
Will we find that, when this “shared wound” heals, we have stronger, more inclusive relationships than we did before the crisis? If we take thoughtful steps toward supporting others - employees, colleagues, and partners - these are actions that can carry us through into the future. Create opportunities to discuss tough and sensitive issues and make this part of how you interact with others. Be meticulous in choosing your words to ensure that your communications convey the desired messages and leave room for input from others. These deliberate decisions will stabilize our business practices and strengthen relationships in ways that might not have been possible previously.