Learning & Development

Updates When There Are No Updates

Most teams have some kind of standing, recurring meeting to touch base with staff and provide updates. These meetings are great venues for group managers to pass along information from the top of the company down.meeting

They allow staff, in small groups, to ask questions and discuss the information with their managers, who can provide feedback that needs to be passed back up the chain.

But sometimes, there really isn’t any new information to provide. While some managers might consider this a perfectly good reason to cancel an instance of a recurring meeting, this can actually be a mistake, particularly in uncertain times, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

When No News Is Good News

With the economy a mess, employees everywhere are concerned for their jobs and the long-term health of their employers. To make matters worse, unprecedented numbers of workers are working remotely, meaning they’ve lost the face-to-face interaction with their managers and coworkers they’ve been accustomed to for years.

That isolation helps fuel uncertainty and speculation. Now more than ever, it’s important for managers to maintain regular touch points, even if they’re virtual and even if there are no updates to provide.

“Uncertainty fuels anxiety,” says Timothy R. Clark in an article for Harvard Business Review. “The more you communicate and share, the less chance there is to develop an information vacuum within your team. Communicate regularly even if you don’t have new information to share. Maintaining transparency through a crisis with frequent updates is the ultimate expression of good faith, empathy, and genuine concern for your team.”

Keeping Two-Way Channels Open

Just because there isn’t specific information doesn’t mean there’s nothing to talk about in such meetings. Often, simply hearing there is no news can be reassuring to staff.

Additionally, the time can be spent asking employees for their updates. Are they having any challenges with their work? Are they doing OK emotionally and mentally with the new work environment? Do they have questions or concerns that aren’t being addressed?

Faced with consistent time pressure and in the general interest of efficiency, it’s natural for managers to consider canceling team meetings when there are no updates to provide. But, particularly in uncertain times such as those facing the nation during the global pandemic, this can be a mistake and a missed opportunity to reassure staff and stay up to date on their overall well-being.