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Verbal Dexterity: Talking the Talk » Blog Archive » The Buck Stops Here (assuming that you have a buck): Dealing with your employees during tough economic times

The Buck Stops Here (assuming that you have a buck): Dealing with your employees during tough economic times

The stock market is down, houses are in foreclosure, companies are laying off thousands or in bankruptcy and your quarterly numbers look like an airplane that just lost its wings..and its engine.

Yikes!

With all of that going on, December only 3 weeks away and raises, performance reviews and bonuses on the immediate horizon–what’s a Boss to do?

How do you deal with associates during such tense & economically challenging times?

Here are some thoughts:

  • Recognize that the grapevine has been going full throttle (with rumors ranging from the pending sale to aliens to mutterings that the office will be bulldozed to make room for condos)…so you need to clear the air, limit the speculation and get people on the right track.
  • Handle layoffs discretely and with dignity.
  • Make you office’s Holiday celebration consistent with the tenor of the other messages that you are delivering (e.g., avoid holding a black tie dinner with shrimp cocktails in the same month that you will be firing 50% of your staff).
  • Desperately search for a “good news” spin. Small bonuses are better than none; no raises are better than pay cuts and wage reductions are better than terminations.
  • Avoid conspicuous spending (redecorating your office now won’t win you any new friends).
  • Encourage “pot-luck” lunches to save money and build morale.
  • Offer financial incentives to employees whom can generate significant cost-savings ideas.
  • Avoid bragging about any new or conspicuous expenditures.
  • Reward employees daily with little things like gold stars, happy face stickers or a piece of candy (they will truly appreciate being recognized and continue to vie for your approval).
  • Instead of a more formally catered meeting or lunch out, bring in some pizzas.
  • Give your workers a choice in what they may have to give up (e.g., free coffee vs. buying their own bottled water).
  • Encourage the office to make bulk supply purchases from a big box warehouse.
  • Encourage everyone to contact their vendors and extract some cost reductions (you could even make it a contest).
  • Acknowledge anyone that is contributing and performing above expectations (even if you just say “atta boy/girl”).
  • Allow your workers more time to vent with you and each other.
  • Be a really good and empathetic listener.
  • Don’t wear your emotions on your sleeve. Nervousness and fear are toxic and contagious.
  • Recognize that even your most innocent comments will be analyzed and dissected by your team, so think twice before you blurt something.
  • Today’s Tip: Tough financial times cannot be ignored by leaders. Associates can get easily rattled and distracted. Speak prudently, listen well and be creative. Employees will always appreciate acknowledgment, compliments, sensitivity and candor. In challenging economic times, you, as the Boss, need to serve as role model, parent, therapist and motivator.

    Stressed employees don’t need you to bet your bottom dollar…just give them your two cents.

    Penny for your thoughts?

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