Naturally, communicating when times are tough is intimidating. No one likes to share what is potentially bad news. However, when times are tough it is more important than ever for leaders to communicate with their stakeholders.
Loads of VCs and founders have written about the importance of communication during a crisis over the past few weeks:
“First [of six disciplines for challenging times], transparent communication… There is no better example than Winston Churchill. As you articulate communication plans, speak with transparency, candor, and gravity.” — Tomasz Tunguz in Six Startup Disciplines for Challenging Times
“When people get Happy Talk instead of Hard Talk, it doesn’t reassure them. In fact, it does the opposite: It causes them to question the credibility of their leaders, which heightens their anxiety and makes them feel rudderless.” — David Sacks in Happy Talk Versus Hard Talk
“Culture should be a priority. And today it is more important than ever. For the amount of time we spend working it should be positive, enjoyable, challenging in a good way and everyone there should feel connected to the company. Happy people make for happy atmospheres regardless of the hard work being done.” — Joanne Wilson in Culture is Important Now More Than Ever
“Communicate, communicate, communicate. It is even more important in a remote environment.” — Seth Levine in Tips For Working from Home From The Foundry Network
“Regardless of the times, entrepreneurs should send a weekly email update to their constituents — employees, advisors, mentors, and investors. People want to know what’s going on. People want to help. Regular email communication is the most repeatable, and scalable, method.” — David Cummings in Weekly Communication
“Key learnings – a) understand and optimize your cash position b) increase communication with team, investors and customers. More the better. c) organize around your customer – shift resources to help them. d) look for opportunities that others won’t see e) stay optimistic!” — Scott Dorsey on Key Learnings from Leading Through 2008 Crisis
Everyone can come out and say that now is the time to communicate but that does not mean everyone will do so. Communicating when times are tough is easier said than done.
Considering our bread and butter is investor and stakeholder communications, we decided to take a look at our data and see if leaders are in fact stepping up during these tough times. The results? Startups and leaders and taking communication incredibly seriously.
First, we took a look at Update recipients by month:
This chart is simply the total number of Update recipients by month. Clearly March has been our best month to date. It is refreshing to see leaders and founders doubling down on communication. So how are the recipients receiving the Updates?
Very well. The chart below is number of Update Reactions, our version of a thumbs up/like, by month:
The result? Investors, team members, and other stakeholders are trying to be as supportive as possible. It is incredible to see leaders double down on communication and their stakeholders pass along support.
Leaders who can step up now will ensure that their team, investors, and other stakeholders are at ease. Plus, they’ll position themselves for success when we get through the current crisis. As Naval Ravikant wrote, “Leadership in the coming months, at every level, is the audition to lead in the coming years.”
If you’r ready to get an Update out to your investors or team, start your Visible trial here.