The global pandemic has forced many companies to transition to work-from-home, with no way of knowing when employees will be able to return to the office or how different things will be when they do. Faced with uncertainty about pay cuts, layoffs and even closures, employees are looking to their leaders for answers.

How can you reassure your team without giving people false hope? A recent Harvard Business Review article offers some expert advice for getting through the “ultimate test of your leadership,” including:

  • Be as honest and transparent as you can, and remember it’s OK to admit that you don’t know everything. For example, if an employee asks about layoffs and you don’t have a definitive answer, consider something like: “I wish I could tell you exactly what is going to happen. We’re giving you updates as soon as we know them.”
  • Don’t sugarcoat bad news just to alleviate your team’s anxiety. They’ll either think you’re a liar or out of touch.
  • Inspire your team by acknowledging their capabilities and encouraging everyone to work together. Admit there will be hard times ahead, but express your belief in the long-term future of the company.
  • Check in with your team members on a regular basis to get a handle on where people stand emotionally, and offer support as needed. Listen carefully to what people are asking and saying.

The HBR article includes more communication tips, as well as two case studies to demonstrate the experts’ advice in practice. See the full article: How to Talk to Your Team When the Future Is Uncertain