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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Keeping Your Team Positive During The Recession

Your employees are human. In a recession they worry about their jobs. They’re concerned about the future of the business too. And the doom and gloom merchants don’t help. Their negativity can hurt your business. Take the lead and create positive expectations.

1. Be Positive. If you feel negative about your business, your staff will know. They’ll notice your body language, your tone of voice and general demeanour. Keep calm and, as the old song says, “accentuate the positive”.

2. Be Honest. Tell the truth. Tell your staff exactly how you believe your business could be affected by the recession. Don’t gild the lily. But make sure you point out how you can limit the effects of the recession on your business and the opportunities it offers to staff. Ask them how they believe they can help.

3. Set Specific Priorities And Targets. Tell your staff what you’re trying to achieve and how it will be measured. Include short, medium and long term goals. Make sure that priorities are crystal clear to staff so they stay very focused.

4. Have a Positive Plan and Share It. Explain to your people what you propose to do and why to achieve your targets. Explain how they’ll be involved, how it will affect their jobs and the broad adjustments they’ll have to make.

5. Structure Input, Participation and Co-operation. The important word is “structure”. It’s not enough to seek employee help. Take the lead. Put in place systems and processes that require their input and participation. Show that you value their inputs. Look for ways to eliminate friction, real or imagined, between different areas of your business.

6. Have Staff “Own” Changes. Structuring participation and co-operation is just the start. To survive a recession, staff need to feel that they own what they’re doing to help the business survive short term and prevail long term. Offer rewards to staff who are successful and make sure their successes are publicly acknowledged.

7. Review and Reveal. Establish a regular review schedule to check the success of your combined efforts. Ensure your staff knows what it says. Be open. Set up some way of publicly monitoring progress. Institute a “warning system” so staff can inform you of potential problems. Be prepared to change if you’re failing to progress adequately.

Firm and decisive leadership is essential in a recession. But only your staff can create real benefits from such leadership. The positive expectations you create will help that to occur.

Leadership is Not Something You Do to People; It’s Something You Do with Them.

Ken Blanchard is internationally renowned for his situational leadership model developed with Paul Hersey and his “One Minute Manager” series co-authored with Spencer Johnson.

The Leadership Pill: The Missing Ingredient in Motivating People Todayis a fun parable that underscores the need for leaders to show integrity, build a culture of partnership, and affirm people’s sense of self-worth by letting them know that what they do is important.