Life is changing at a rapid pace. The world has become more complex and interdependent.
Do you remember that list of life stresses that includes moving, the death of a spouse, getting married, and so on? That was created in the 1960s. There are now estimates that life has become 44 percent more stressful now!
Organisational Consultant Peter Vail calls this stress ‘permanent white water’, referring to the times of ongoing uncertainty in turbulence.
In my role as a career coach, I meet many people – those who have lost their jobs, and others who are responsible for delivering the difficult news of lay offs, redundancies or retrenchments.
It’s one thing having the skills to let people go. But another skill is communicating to the remaining employees.
What is clear is that in these white water times, it’s important to be ‘real’.
How can Managers show they are ‘real’?
‘Real’ leaders are not afraid to show their emotions, their vulnerability, and to connect with their employees.
But to do so, employers need to give their managers and leaders the ‘permission’ to be ‘real’.
It’s important to up-skill them so they develop the skills to deliver the bad news and at the same time maintain employee engagement.
1. Start with Why: Align the message with the strategy
‘Real’ Managers need to know how to clearly state the strategy of the business and in that context, the rationale for any organisational changes being made. Whatever is being said at this stage must be delivered in simple and clear language.
2. Key next steps to steady the business
‘Real’ Managers should be clear in understanding the essential three things the business is doing to help navigate it through these white water times.
This is not a one-off communication, but regularly, frequently, and consistently. ‘Real’ managers should communicate the business’ progress toward these objectives to remaining staff.
‘Real’ Managers need the skills to communicate how each of the remaining employees can individually contribute toward the overall goals of the employer (a line of sight) and then facilitate their staff doing so.
White water times are permanently here. We can’t see exactly where the changes are headed or where the submerged rocks are, yet when we are tossed out of the boat, we want to make sure our remaining employees can swim, not sink.
The difference between experienced rafters and the rest of us is that they are prepared to get bounced out and to recover quickly since they expect white water.
‘Real’ Managers can help their team steer through the white water to successfully keep as many on board.
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