When Times Are Tough: What Do You Do?

Our company is going through some hard times. We are tightening our belt and trying not to lay off our folks, but we may be forced to. How do we make the best of a bad time for our business?

It is easier to be open with employees when the news is good. When business realities get more difficult, many managers tend to adopt a bunker mentality, developing strategy behind closed doors as employee anxiety mounts, trust declines and rumors fly. Then you have a real morale problem and the potential of productivity going down and customer complaints going up.

Even bad news has the potential of strengthening the relationships with your present and future employees when communicated clearly and effectively. Here’s how;

  1. Communicate widely, honestly and often.
    Tell employees about the hardships facing the company. It is likely that they have already sensed the situation, but it is important that they hear the news directly from management. Acknowledging and discussing the company’s position is the first step to keeping people involved and thus committed to solving problems they understand.
  2. Fill in information gaps for your employees.
    If layoffs become necessary, people won’t be shocked if they have been able to see them coming. Constantly update your people through emails, voicemails, face-to-face meetings and even webcasts. In times of uncertainty, no news is NOT good news.
  3. Give the most pressing information first.
    When the question on everyone’s mind is, “Is there bad news ahead?” let them know. Then the second question is “What about me?” Provide honest communication even to say, we don’t know, but will let you know as soon as possible. And then do that.
  4. Tell employees that they are appreciated.
    Reinforce that they are valued and that they will play a vital part in the organization’s future success. Increase motivation and recognition efforts.
  5. Realize that good news is important too.
    Don’t get so bogged down in the negative that you forget to pass on the good. Long-term success follows a series of smaller “wins,” and announcing these wins as they occur will help rebuild employee confidence and encourage them to continue to be productive.

Smart Moves Tip:

Employees need leadership at this time. They want to know where the company is going, how it’s going to get there, and what is needed from them so that they can get immediately on board. Don’t wait until the plan is perfect – it never is. You can say right now this is what we need to do and management will keep you informed of changes. And don’t forget to thank them again for their work and commitment.

Also check out these posts: Change Management: Lessons From Dr. Seuss When Change Arrives Who Cheers and Who Jeers? Change Leadership: Bring Back Play, Purpose

Readers, what’s your experience dealing with tough economic times within your company? If you were in a leadership position, how did you handle the uncertainty and concern of the employees? 


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My motto is: “If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got. Therefore, MOVE outside of your comfort zone; that’s where the MAGIC happens. To bring that magic to your leadership and career, visit Marcia’s website Smart Moves Coach and subscribe to “Coaching Clinic” Marcia’s monthly Execubrief with additional insights, intelligence, and inspiration.

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Marcia Zidlehttp://www.smartmovescoach.com
Marcia Zidle, The Smart Moves Coach, is a national known board certified coach and keynote leadership speaker who guides organizations that are planning, or in the midst of, ambitious growth and change. As a career strategist, she works with professionals, managers and executives who want to build • shape • brand • change • vitalize their careers. She’s been selected by LinkedIn’s ProFinder as one of the best coaches for 2016!Her clients range from private owned businesses to mid-market companies to professional service firms to NGO’s. With 25 years of management, business consulting and international experience, she brings an expertise in executive and team leadership; employee engagement and innovation; personal and organization change; career building and development; emotional and social intelligence. Your Future Starts Now With Marcia!
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