[Note: I’m happy to feature this guest post from business strategist and coach, Dawn Lennon, who is the author of Business Fitness: The Power to Succeed – Your Way. It was originally written for this blog several years ago as part of a guest-post series on re-energizing the workplace, and Dawn’s advice is just as applicable today.]
Relentless negative messages are suffocating. When people hear or read nothing but discouraging news day after day in the media, at staff meetings, in company e-mails, and at the water cooler, they develop a feeling of powerlessness that can sap even the strongest spirit. The truth is that the glass is always half full and half empty at the same time. How we see the contents of the glass determines how we proceed. When the spirit of our employees flags, management needs to look at the messages it’s sending.
Employees get energy, motivation, and optimism from a clear understanding of the state of the business (how it’s doing financially, what the market needs, how costs impact operations) and what the business needs them to do to make a difference.
People want to feel in control of their work life. They don’t want to feel like they are sitting in wait for something awful to happen. They don’t want to live in dread of unseen inevitabilities. Employers owe their employees the information they need to make good choices each day about what they do, how they work, and what their options are.
Businesses that see a pall falling over their employees need to do three things:
- Deliver a balanced (upside and downside) state of the business message face to face to employees. Use the existing leadership (executives, managers, and first line supervisors) to communicate these messages in ways that connect with employees and allow for candid questions and answers.
- Develop specific performance initiatives with each employee that aligns his/her work with the needs of the business. Give employees a clear understanding of how their contributions are helping to drive the success of the business by having each person meet with his/her supervisor to set priorities.
- Meet with work group employees together each week to review progress. Build a sense of team camaraderie where each person’s efforts are applauded in the context of the broader needs of the business. Reinforce the state of the business messages, showcasing how the positives are beginning to impact the negatives.
The engagement of team effort around a central challenge is a strong antidote to malaise. It brings fresh air into the workplace, builds optimism through shared involvement, and helps people to focus less on their individual concerns and more on the power of the team. Together we generally feel stronger and safer than we do alone.
[For more great posts, please visit Dawn’s Business Fitness blog.]