Organizations often forget it is the people working every single day that make the magic happen. Suppose each leader keeps that one critical truth in mind when prepping for communications with employees. In that case, it will help humanize the response, weave in appreciations, and carry a tone that the employee matters. Communication is key to the success of the employee and the company. Therefore, each conversation is for the employee's information, development, advancement, or training, nothing more or less.
When a leader asserts the "more or less," they begin to toggle the line of personal opinion, discrimination, and bias. If employees are ill-prepared for their job, performance management with information and training can provide a solution. If an employee is not sure of their career path or how leaders evaluate who is ready for advancement, then more investment in development and advancement materials is required. These are unbiased, transparent, antidotes to typical everyday employee worries.
Leaders should never assume employees know why specific corporate actions are taken but even where details cannot be shared, a vision can always paint a picture for everyone. Consequently, the end of the year is approaching, and managers should start prepping those communications and discussions now.
Here are some critical areas that are sure to arise in the last quarter and a few tips to get through it with ease:
The ups and downs may make it challenging to identify failed performance metrics in many job roles this year. In past years, employees have been trained to be agile, evolving, and ready for the highs and lows. Rarely has the lows impacted the viability of work collectively. However, this also does not mean we should not consider the employee performance during this time. The leadership team can focus on a few key areas when considering performance such as:
Layoffs are a challenging and often necessary action businesses must take to reduce costs and survive another fiscal year. There is a way to communicate with staff that is considerate, informative, and hopeful. Communication of team reduction should demonstrate humility. Where possible, this is a great time to get creative with alternatives such as furloughs, transitioning employees into roles that are needed right now [cross-training], or even alternate schedules. Employees will view the efforts as considerate because many employees struggle to juggle a full workday and children at homeschooling. The relief may prove to be beneficial to the employee and the company.
This year may justify pausing a once sturdy promotion and bonus cycle. Communicating can be disappointing to those who are awaiting and reliant upon the funds associated with this cycle. Consequently, the communication should be truthful and hopeful. If promotions and bonuses may hinder the companies' ability to keep employees due to a drop in revenue, state those simple facts. Employees are much more appreciative of the truth and understand it is not for the lack of effort; it truly saves their future jobs. Now is the time to capitalize on being one culture with one collective goal. Family comes first, and employees are family; therefore, hard decisions to keep the family together are necessary during difficult times. Express your belief in your team's personal growth is vital. Explain that change in one area, such as schedule adjustments or pay/bonus structures, will impact growth in other areas as the business settles into this new version of work-life balance.
Communication is a tool many organizations lack to use effectively. Building a culture of respect, honesty, and trust takes work by the leadership and the employees. The simplicity of providing explanations on a current path, evolving goal, or inevitable immediate changes can establish a human connection with employees that creates a family-like culture. Do not leave people in the dark guessing because they will prepare for the worse, and in many cases, that may cause loss of essential employees who are unsettled or unsure of their futures.