With organizations attempting to resume normal practices, some leaders have the daunting task of choosing who will and won’t come back to work. Conversely, some of your best performers may be unable to rejoin the team for various reasons such as caring for children who can’t return to school on a regular basis.
Leaders are left to navigate through these tough circumstances, as well as figure out how to face employees who have their own concerns about returning to work. Emotions are running high.
Amid discouragement and possible damage to existing relationships, you’re tasked with finding ways to increase morale and restore commitment. How do you recreate the level of engagement you enjoyed prior to the pandemic?
BE TRANSPARENT AND COMMUNICATE OPENLY
At a time like this, employees need leaders who are authentic and communicate frequently and clearly. During times of uncertainty, sending messages that are vague, inconsistent, or based on assumptions will only increase employee concerns or fears.
Leaders who utilize face to face meetings (when possible) or video sessions as opposed to email are more likely to get their message across and drive the discussion.
PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR INPUT AND FEEDBACK
Give your employees a voice in which to share concerns, pose ideas, and offer suggestions. While not every idea or suggestion can be implemented, employees need to see that a forum to offer such insight exists and that discussions and contemplation are genuine.
ADDRESS FEAR AND ANXIETY
Seek first to understand where people are emotionally before dealing with issues. Show empathy and care even if you cannot relate to what an employee might be experiencing. Do your best to suppress fear and anxiety with an optimistic tone. Encourage teammates to lean on one another for support. Show them it is ok to express emotion and that they work in an environment where it is safe to do so.
As you share information, give the “why” behind it.
- This decision was based on…
- The following changes are the result of…
- Due to X, your role will change slightly…
You are helping employees process and think through what happened and what steps the company must take as a result. If communicated properly, they will see that leadership looked at the available information, considered options, and ultimately made a decision they felt was best for the organization.
At Rising Sun Consultants, LLC, we strongly believe that a healthy organizational culture can provide much-needed stability during uncertain times – and that leaders not only play a critical role in the culture they create but represent one of the most visual and influential examples of it as well.