8 Things Business Can Do to Calm the Storm
Yes, there is a storm at work! Personalities that morph into lightning, heavy rain, tornados, and even drought, can turn your workplace into a combat zone. As employers, we know that our employees are multi-faceted. And we understand that all personalities don’t always get along.
The workplace can sometimes be compared to life in middle school; with “this clique” or “that group;” with some “in-the-know of it all,” and others “left out of it all.” For those left out of it all, the gap between collaboration and isolation gets larger and larger as time goes on. So, what role do leaders play in creating a workplace of cooperation, collaboration and collective ideas?
Managers are in constant struggle to use the right words to the right people at the right time, and when that fails, they often adopt the avoidance principal. But avoiding the situation never makes it go away. Your angry employees will just get angrier and the gap will just grow wider.
I liken employees to the Jekyll and Hyde personality theory. One day they walk in the door ready to face an exciting day, then minutes later they are unapproachable. Something as small as opening their email box can set the pace for the remainder of the day. We all have those days; but what I am discussing in this blog are those anger issues that are deep-seeded and toxic. When left unaddressed, they can lead to a workplace plague. Your happy and engaged employees can become your next resignation.
So, what are the 8 things business can do to calm the storm?
- Provide clear, concise and frequent communication across all levels of employees. Don’t assume that communication flows downhill without you pushing it. Leaders keep their managers informed. In kind, managers keep their team leads informed; and team leads have the responsibility of making sure every employee has access to the roadmap so basic questions like, Why? When? and What needs to happen? are known by everyone.
- Let’s face it, the workplace is made up of individuals who can’t leave their personal baggage at the door. In a pre-game coaching session, you can often hear the coach say “Leave your attitude at the door!” Coaches know that a bad attitude can affect the outcome of the game. The same principals apply to business. Businesses should live by a code of behavior, one that defines the line that can’t be crossed. It’s not only up to leaders to enforce the code, but also to perform by the code.
- Be good managers. Stand by your team. When you ride the rough waters with your team, they notice. Good managers stay available during the storm and don’t abandon ship. Every good team has a strong leader. If business wants to win the game, they can’t play without a coach. If your managers aren’t good at coaching, think about somewhere else to use their strengths. And it’s never too late to go back to school. Keep your managers calm and confident by developing their management skills.
- Create strong leaders. When you put future leaders in place, be sure you are willing to expand their toolkits. Invite them to strategic planning sessions and welcome their feedback. Although a few good leaders are just born that way, most are created through exposure to other leaders, being part of the decision-making process, and being well informed. And, sometimes being well informed means passing along information that is not always positive. Leaders need to be good at defusing the information they are about to share with their subordinates. Have you heard the saying “_ _ _ _ rolls down hill?” Did you know it was created in the workplace? Keep the calm by controlling how the message is communicated.
- Provide Feedback. There are so many methods of communication today; monthly town hall meetings, weekly team meetings, instant messaging, emails, performance check-ins, phone calls and face to face. When feedback is not encouraged, employees disengage. There is no skill requirement for talking to your employees. Once you open the door for two-way communication, you will immediately see the difference. At first it may seem a little overwhelming, but once employees know they have your attention, they become engaged. Once they become engaged, performance increases. It’s a win-win for everyone.
- Dispel myths and rumors. The last 8 years have been volatile with numerous layoffs, budget cutbacks and downsizings of complete departments and locations. This creates a great deal of anxiety for employees. It also leads to unnecessary “job protectiveness.” And, the unnecessary job protectiveness can lead to backstabbing actions amongst your employees. If the company is turning around and things are progressing, share it with the employees! Remember, when there is no message at all, employees tend to create one.
- Set clear and concise goals. In some organizations, the process of goal setting has not yet been introduced. With exception to the sales team, managers are tying performance to a list of questions on a very generic Annual Evaluation form. Employees need to know what is expected of them and how they contribute to the company success overall. If a business wants to see how everyone in the company is contributing to corporate success, they need to cascade goals from the top down. Spending time at the planning table will allow companies to kick-start this process. Identify your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and how they will get accomplished by setting goals that keeps everyone right on target.
- Say thank you. You can put a smile on someone’s face by just acknowledging the efforts they made that day. And guess what, it’s a cost-free and underutilized practice.
You have the power to calm the storm. There are tools available to unify everyone with clear goals and expectations...while measuring performance and identifying those who need help. Make your workplace one that works for you.
Reimagine your workplace, one where everyone has direction and no one is left without vision.