It’s the new norm. Companies across the U.S. are bracing for a tweet from our President. It’s happened to some of our country’s most high-profile organizations. If you’re in an industry that intersects with the Trump agenda, it might just happen to you.
Planning for and dealing with being “Trumped” is a hot topic today. Most conversations are focused on external responses—how to deal with media, consumers, shareholders, and even governmental audiences—when President Trump (or another high-profile individual/organization) tweets.
Important discussions for sure, but what about your employees?
A Trump tweet can, above all, have an emotional toll internally. It can create barriers and confusion. Unfounded rumors can start and spread. Morale might drop, and productivity could plummet.
Recent research shows stock prices aren’t affected in the long term. But, how about internal operations? If you’re not properly prepared, and not advocating for employees’ well-being, a Trump tweet could come out of the blue and cause major disruption.
So, what can you do? Set yourself up for internal success with six foundational principles.
1 Be prepared and start today.
- Look, with your leadership team, at your business plan and growth strategy to identify potential acknowledgment from the administration.
- Update your crisis plan, develop new scenarios around a high-profile tweet, and practice them more than once.
- Study your internal channels and identify the quickest, most effective ways to communicate with employees.
- Update your social media policy; consider educating employees on consuming news responsibly.
- Watch for it. A Trump tweet usually comes between 6AM-9AM, and Saturday tweets seem to be the most inflammatory. Watch Morning Joe and Fox News to see what he’s hearing.
2 Keep employees top of mind.
It’ll be easy for the C-Suite to get distracted by stock price, media, and stockholders. Remember, employees (and their loyalty) are one of your biggest assets and should stay a high priority.
3 Let your Mission/Vision/Values be your guide.
Your organization spent time on these at inception for a reason. They should always be the guide. Sometimes, however, the mission/vision/values are only revisited during new employee orientation. Don’t make that mistake. Instead, prepare by shoring up companywide understanding of and buy in. And, when the attack comes—lean on them to reassure your team of the greater purpose, what you collectively believe in, and how your organization behaves. If employees have already bought into the mission/vision/values, they’ll be less susceptible to tremendous emotional turmoil.
4 Be quick.
You won’t have much time once his fingers start tweeting. And, your employees are likely to see a tweet at the same time you are. The best way to be quick in a crisis (no matter how small or large) is to have planned ahead, so:
- Write a series of internal holding statements that acknowledge you’re aware of what’s happening.
- Develop your reassurance messages (see #6).
- Plan the synchronization of internal communication based on your previous analysis.
- Develop an internal quarter-hour schedule to update internal audiences.
- Alert leadership that you’ll need to explain internally what’s happened, what’s being done about it, and that you’ll likely have to communicate internally for longer than you’ll need to externally.
5 Talk to everyone. Wherever they are.
- Communicating to employees about the tweet isn’t going to be enough. Plan for two-way communication so employees can share what they’re feeling and provide feedback. Make sure leadership (and direct supervisors) aren’t only providing details, but are listening as well.
- Use every channel you can to reach your audiences. What works for one employee won’t work for another. Consider all internal channels—email, intranet, town halls, blogs, texts, etc.—and remember the most trusted source is an employee’s direct manager.
6 Stick to the message.
Transparency and consistency are critical for effective communications. But, today you have no way of knowing what a Trump tweet might write—neither the content or the context. Assuming there are no ethical, legal or moral breeches, there are three things you should be able internally communicate from the onset, and throughout, a tweet storm:
- “We are proud of you and what we do.”
- “Our organization is strong and you are a part of that.”
- “We have a clear direction.”
These are three constants that will calm fears, provide reassurance, and help redirect employees to the work at hand. It’ll be easy to get stressed or distracted if your organization gets “Trumped.” But, with proper planning, a focus on mission/vision/values, and putting employees at the top of the list, you’ll get through it. And, if nothing else, remember…