Whenever change occurs, it seems natural to focus all your communication efforts on the individuals directly affected—those who are losing a job, reporting to a new leader or being asked to take on added responsibilities. Still, all your employees are watching how you manage the changes.
At no time are productivity levels more at risk than during layoffs or leadership shakeups. And the more closed-door meetings you have, the more likely it is for negative buzz to infect water-cooler conversations.
Here’s what you need to remember during those difficult times:
- Beware of tunnel vision. Just because you’re not shouting the message from a loud speaker doesn’t mean your employees can’t hear you. In announcing the changes and in follow-up presentations, keep your posture relaxed and your facial expressions neutral. It reduces the risk of generating unnecssary concerns for onlookers.
- Look at things from your employees’ perspective. They’re watching you very closely because how you treat impacted colleagues (who are likely their friends) is how they believe you’ll treat them under similar circumstances.
- Uncertainty grinds work to a halt. Employees do their best work when they can see how their individual efforts contribute to the company vision. If that vision seems compromised, they have nothing to anchor their efforts to and will—perhaps unconsiously—lengthen their lunch breaks, browse a little longer online and engage in gossip.
Before you act…
During major changes there are things that can’t be shared openly, but be as transparent as possible. And demonstrate in your words and actions that all business decisions are for the good of the company—which ultimately benefits everyone. It will help steer people clear of the counterproductive fear factor.