Many businesses may need to make some tough decisions as they start to reopen.
You may need to radically change the way you work forever and in some cases this may include potentially letting go of staff.
You value your staff and don’t want to disengage or let them go, so how can you navigate this?
Be Open and Honest
Above all else make sure you are open, honest and transparent with your staff. Good communication throughout an organisation should be part of your usual approach as it improves trust, engagement and loyalty as well as empowering staff to share their ideas allowing for enhanced innovation.
Trust is especially important during times of change so stay authentic, transparent and human.
If you don’t know the answer it’s OK to admit this, as soon as the information becomes available make sure you go back and share this.
If you aren’t communicating other people will fill the gaps. If your staff aren’t hearing regularly from you, gossip and people’s personal views and ideas about the situation can quickly circulate and they will gain traction. You must manage the communication stream to avoid this ‘fake news’ situation.
Even if you have no updates, let your staff know this, reiterate what is known and answer their questions.
Communication is a two-way street and you show you value people when you take the time to listen to them. Your staff will have insights, views and opinions you haven’t thought of which can help form further options and updates.
Whenever change is needed bring your staff together, they will be able to offer ideas, feedback, experience and customer insights that could be invaluable to your business and the change process. If appropriate you could also invite other stakeholders to be a part of the process.
Understand how people respond to change
Understanding the psychology of change will help you support your staff during the change process and understand their behaviour and reactions. The Change House Model describes the different stages we all move through when faced with change. Using a model such as this will allow you to pre-empt some of the behaviours, allowing you to focus on how best to support staff through the different stages of the change process.
People may not want to share their ideas or questions in front of others so make sure you and your team are accessible. This will also help reduce anxiety and rumours amongst your staff whilst enhancing their trust in you. People are more likely to understand why you are having to make tough decisions and actions if you remain open, authentic and accessible throughout the process, especially if this is your normal leadership style.
Again this goes back to being human. Place yourself in your staff’s shoes, what support would you want and appreciate if you were going through this situation? Then make sure this support is available to them.