Leading employees in uncertain times

Leading a teamThe business climate is starting to improve, and there are some who are seeing indicators of a strong 2012. But our team may still be lost in the uncertainty and gloom that the news media has been dishing out to us. Lybia and London are far away, but earthquakes and hurricanes combined with talk of a double-dip may keep your team members feeling a bit skittish. How can we be the leaders that we need to be to show our whole team the way out of fear and toward that recovery.

In order to get everyone putting toward that extra effort again, you need to reengage your team and rebuild their trust. Here are three ways to do that:

1.    Be visible and transparent. When there is uncertainty and turmoil some business owners work harder individually. While that’s admirable, what that means for your employees is more time with your office door closed or more time out of the office. You are working harder as an individual contributor, but you are less available to your team. They don’t see you, they don’t know what you are thinking, and so they start making things up and listening to what they hear on the news.

We need to be more visible and more available, and communicate more when there is uncertainty. Walk through your office, spend a few minutes visiting with your team. Have lunch with some folks and start to engage them in new challenges and opportunities. Help everyone to see the encouraging signs that you are seeing.

2.    Focus on results. We need to show that the business is making progress. Everyone wants to see that extra effort is producing a result. What are the key performance indicators that you are watching to determine your company’s performance? Have you posted them on the wall, or sent them out in a daily/weekly/monthly report? What’s some positive evidence that your team can see that everyone’s hard work is starting to pay off?

3.    Make sure everyone feels connected. When humans feel threatened, we want to be connected to a tribe, a group that will have our back. When your team feels threatened, they naturally attach their loyalties to their family and other communities. But your company can be a tribe for them too. Do you have a mission or purpose that makes them feel good, that they want to remain connected to? By building those values into your company culture, and reinforcing them even during uncertainty, your company can become a tribe that they can depend on, and connect to.

How can your team see that your company is on firm footing and moving solidly forward, regardless of the news and environment outside your office?

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