Helping Employees Manage Change During Uncertain Times


Hedley Lawson: 
Contributing Editor

If your company is like most, the financial crisis has affected it in a variety of ways, requiring new strategies, budget reductions, delayed capital spending, and postponed projects. What can leaders do to get their employees through this challenging time? According to Towers Perrin, a global business consulting firm, here are 10 ways to keep your work force engaged:

1. Clarify your strategy and vision for dealing with the economic uncertainty. This will help you communicate goals and priorities to employees in times of crisis.

2. Reinforce your strategy and vision in every employee meeting. Everyone makes decisions every day. However, they’ll only align their priorities with the organization’s strategy if they’re as clear about it as you are.

3. Establish a Web site where employees can learn what your company is doing—and what your competitors are doing—to manage the crisis. Transparency is always preferred by employees, but now it’s critical.

4. Send a weekly e-mail update with successes and challenges. Employees respect when leadership is candid, and by communicating with your people, you’ll help them gain confidence in the organization’s future.

5. Meet with groups of employees to listen to their concerns and solicit their suggestions. Employees who are involved in addressing challenges know that the company values their concerns and opinions.

6. Ask teams to develop their own plans for improving quality, pleasing customers and reducing costs. Harness your employees’ energy and act on appropriate suggestions.

7. Realign performance goals based on new market realities. If you’ve changed your business strategy, let your employees know their goals may need to change as well.

8. Make sure people know how the business uncertainty will affect rewards. Tell employees as soon as possible if their total rewards package will be changing.

9. Challenge people to cross-train and learn new jobs. Employees can add value—for themselves and the organization—by acquiring new skills.

10. Share key performance indicators with every employee. This is especially important if your key measures have changed to battle the economic crisis.