Communicating with your team

Good leadership needs good communication. Clear and timely communication is even more important during a time of crisis, and you will need to use different tools if face-to-face meetings are not possible.

Here are some links to advice and resources that will help you communicate effectively with your teams. 

The latest news and information for managers

During a crisis we need to communicate frequently, openly and be willing to respond to questions. It’s important to stay empathetic, listen to feedback and acknowledge when you don’t know all the answers. The following sources will help you in your daily communication with your team.  

Setting a regular communication routine

If you are leading a team, regular and open communication is essential to build a sense of shared purpose and an understanding of how each team member’s work contributes. This is even more important during the current period – communicate to provide a sense of certainty, create a regular routine, and encourage team members to provide feedback. The principles remain the same – whether you are on site, you are managing remotely, or team members are working from home….

When you determine how you are going to communicate with your team, consider:

  • Size of the team
  • Team location
  • Your type of work type – clinical, nursing, admin, strategic, mixture of all
  • Access to technology (ie mobile phone, ability to use Webex)
  • Access to a computer (does your team sit at a desk or are they mobile – cleaning, on the ward, in surgery, managing supplies, answering phones etc)
  • Is there a time the team all together? Or in smaller groups? What’s the roster?
  • Do you know how your team members like to communicate and when they will be most receptive.

Every day…

Right now, things are moving quickly and change is regular – not unusual in a health service.

  • Provide your team with regular, brief, daily updates
  • Bring the team together at the start of shift/start of the day or when the majority of the team can be available (eg shift handover) – this can be face-to-face (safely with social distancing) or on Webex
  • If you are in a clinical area, use the Start of Shift Huddle template or equivalent.
  • Provide a dot point, written update before this meeting – it should contain:
    • Priority work for the day
    • Reminder of keeping themselves and each other safe
    • Links to the latest information from the Chief Executive, the Chief Health Officer, and any specific issues which affect your team (what does your team need to do today – is it the latest on PPE? Mask wearing? Visitor restrictions? Changes to equipment or testing routines? – the latest updates are available on the coronavirus website for employees)
    • People’s movements for the day
    • Reminder of self-care and EAP support.
  • This list doesn’t have to be exhaustive. Ask yourself – what will help my team members do their jobs effectively today? What decisions were made yesterday, which will affect or interest them? What will help us achieve a better outcome? Is everyone staying safe?
  • Provide an opportunity for questions, even if you don’t have all the answers. Undertake to get the questions answered and don’t answer if you aren’t sure. No question is too silly.

Every week/fortnight…

  • Conduct a longer team meeting with a pre-prepared agenda which each team member has in advance so they can contribute effectively. This meeting will ideally be conducted using Webex.
  • Read the latest Manager Bulletin and ensure you act on the key messages – some of it may feed into your team meeting agenda.
  • Outside of the meeting, speak to each team member personally, even if it’s a quick phone call
  • How are they feeling? Do they have any issues they need to raise? Any blockers to getting their work done?
  • What questions remain?
  • How can you help?
  • Who else might be able to help? Do you have a buddy system in place?
  • Be alert to signs of fatigue, anxiety and other serious issues among your team, either at home or at work.
  • How are you improving processes and progressing strategic ideas or change? Share opportunities for people to present or put forward ideas.

Every month….

  • Does your area have a newsletter? This can be another simple email. It should contain news and achievements or changes most relevant to your area.
  • Acknowledge the work that’s been done. Single people out for praise if they’ve gone above and beyond (this can be part of your daily team check in too).
  • Are there particular achievements the rest of the organisation should know about? Contact the communications team to see whether a story can be done for iNews.
  • Is there someone who should be nominated for a Star award? Or sent a Star card to recognise their efforts?
  • Process, review, feedback – if there are blockers that remain or questions unanswered, let the team know what you’ve done to follow up or get a response.
  • Provide updates on what’s changed and what might be changing – flag the need for change very early. Have conversations, get feedback, and seek to get buy in. Repetition is important as part of making a change.

Effective communication

Here are some quick tips to making your communication more effective. 

Holding an online meeting

Monash Health is using the Webex platform to connect employees working remotely or across different sites, and to practice social distancing. As a manager it allows you to hold virtual meetings with up 1000 employees. 

Top tips on managing remotely

Our People and Culture team has a number of presentations to help with ideas about how to motivate and manage your teams remotely.  This advice is useful whether you are on site or working from home.

Email or phone 

Particularly while you are working remotely, always ask yourself whether a phone call would be more personal than an email and allow for an exchange of ideas. Or a combination of email and phone may work best.  

Follow these general email etiquette tips to write more effective email: 

  • Write a meaningful subject line. 
  • Keep the message focused. 
  • Avoid attachments.
  • Identify yourself clearly. 
  • Be kind. 
  • Proofread. 
  • Don’t assume privacy. 
  • Distinguish between formal and informal situations. 
  • Respond promptly. 
  • Show respect and restraint. 
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