It’s no secret that it has been a difficult year for businesses all around the country. The sluggish economy has left no one untouched whether it is lost revenues, a reduction in staff or simply the uncertainty of what is to come. So given the events of 2009, what is on your employees’ minds?
It’s quite simple, they wonder about the future of your business and its impact to them personally. And let’s face it, if your employees are distracted, employee engagement and productivity will suffer.
While no one can predict what the future holds, there are three basic items your team needs. And if you attempt to meet these needs, you will see employee engagement and productivity improve.
1. Honest and timely information
In the absence of truth, we make up our own version of truth. Two plus two equals five in our minds. And in a time of uncertainty, employees need honest and timely information from you. They should never hear information about your company from outside your organization before they hear it from you.
How do you meet this need? Create an on-going communication vehicle within your company. Share the state of the department or business with them. Talk about your key performance indicators, the state of your surroundings and what is on the horizon. Sharing information on these topics gives your team a sense of being “in the loop” and included in what’s important to the business.
2. Confidence you have their best interest at heart
Employees (in both good and bad times) want to know their leader has their back. It’s a matter of trust. It’s the intangible element of your business relationship that creates loyalty.
How do you build a community of trust? It requires intentional efforts. Be mindful of “closed door” meetings. While there are times that require privacy, a constant closed door causes employees to wonder what secrets are being discussed – is someone being fired?, are they talking about me?, and so forth.
Also, think about where you spend your hours of your day? For employees, relationship is measured in time. They trust people they know. And if they know you, it’s essential to walk the talk. Each of these strategies builds their confidence that you have their best interest at heart.
3. Signs of action and/or progress across the organization
Finally, your employees are thinking about the future of your business like you are. They want the company to be around-and successful-in the future. So it is important to talk about the future what them. They need to see evidence that the company is preparing for that time ahead when the economic conditions improve.
To communicate progress, build the visual evidence that are making plans today for your success tomorrow and let your team know they are part of that equation. Speak in terms of long-range – for example an 18 month initiative they will be involved in. This sends the power message that we are just focusing on the here and now. Link your day to day activities to the long-term. Help them understand that a reduction in expenses now help us fund a project in Q1 of next year.
Everyone hopes the coming year looks quite a bit different from the past 12 months of 2009. It is likely next year will also be a difficult one but signs of improvement will come.
As you plan your communication efforts for 2010, take action to meet these employee needs so they can also be geared up to be an active part of your coming year.
Does this article resonate with you? If so, I would love to hear what you are doing to make 2010 a successful year. Send your thoughts and let’s discuss them.