In times of confusion…communicate more

By Joyce Penland, CFRE

Over the course of my time in fundraising, I’ve been told that it’s important in times of chaos and confusion not to bury one’s head in the sand, not to head towards the bunker and not to envelope oneself or one’s organization in a “cone of silence.” Instead, I’m told, “In times of confusion and chaos, good leaders communicate more.”

We have recently witnessed several organizations that are going through substantive change and leaving their staff members, their boards, and their donors in the dark.

Whether there’s a change in the Development Director’s position, a new strategic planning process being conducted, or the launch of a campaign, savvy leaders must keep their stakeholders informed so that the organization can maintain balance and good health. Providing timely updates and letting staff and others ask questions, helps to alleviate anxiety and build trust in the leader’s ability to manage change. A leader’s calm demeanor and assertive style doesn’t hurt either.

Spark Productivity author Sue Becker says that when dealing with chaotic, changing times in the workplace, effective leaders can rely on these strategies:

•Communication – actively provide inclusive, honest, timely communication; be specific and minimize information overload; provide effective feedback; immediately and directly address personnel issues while listening to any underlying reasons for the problem. 

•Attitude – demonstrate a dedicated and positive attitude; encourage needed changes by sharing the vision rather than making threats; center yourself as chaos arises and mitigate immediately.

•Empowerment– encourage decision making and allow others to demonstrate their abilities; provide support; enable each other to build trust and loyalty.

•Stress – encourage breaks; provide clear and realistic priorities; avoid distractive environments; do not require immediate responses to emails so that the frequency of interrupting one’s focus to check emails can be reduced.

We at Lee+ Associates welcome your feedback on how your organization helps alleviate and manage stress in your office.

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