How to Better Communicate as a Manager
What can we do as Managers to communicate better when staff leave? How can we reverse the downward spiral that morale is taking?
It is great to see that managing inside team member morale is on the radar. In our current environment, growing negative morale can be a function of many factors; organizational, individual and cultural. We know from engagement research that if highly skilled employees do not feel appreciated in the work they do, or see their colleagues leaving, or are not informed about what is happening in the company, trust erodes. Here are three considerations for management that make a difference;
1 - Maintain regular open communication – trust and teamwork are critical during uncertain events or when team members start leaving. Simple to say and hard to do. Employees begin to doubt what is really happening in their company if they only hear the “positive spin” or no spin at all. Here is what one of my clients did to engage their employees.
The CEO of a high technology services firm had the foresight to email a message to all employees about the concerns around some key talent leaving and going to competitors. He addressed it head on, shared information about the industry, the realities, and acknowledged the fears that some expressed. He shared his view of company progress, their challenges and plans for the long term. He was honest about what they needed to do and recognized the amazing contributions of the teams that would support their success going forward. It was an inspiring and truthful discussion of their challenge but also their unique opportunity to win together. They are holding monthly town hall meetings to keep the dialogue going. I call that “dealing in the real” and allowing safe discussion of what matters.
2 - Give managers the chance to live their values at work & inspire others to do the same - it starts with managers taking the time to define what they value, where they are headed and why it matters in your company. This is not a fluff exercise, this is critical for your manager and for the CEO and his team. Employees will emotionally commit if they see what is important, the significance of the mission defined by their leader, how they fit in and why their contribution will make a difference.
The Chief Technology Officer of a Silicon Valley Company requires all his managers to go through a two day coaching experience to help them understand their strengths and passions. This leader wants all of his managers to be “skilled coaches” with their employees. This is seen as a critical investment to manager effectiveness and employee engagement. Their annual employee engagement surveys confirm progress in helping others be successful and their belief that professional and personal growth is important.
Another company I know is re-defining it’s human capital practices and rather than have a team of HR folks define it, they held numerous “affinity group” session with a diverse group of employees to learn what mattered most to them and how they could be supported in their work.
3 - Rethink your team’s job requirements and re-organize if need be – often when people leave in this current climate, the organization tries to absorb that person’s work and have others pick up the slack. We see a lot of this, and rather than assess work and eliminate non-essential activities or re-structure the organization, the leader just expects everyone to do more. This is a formula for disaster with morale. Managers should focus on organization structure, resources and needed capabilities to achieve business goals. This requires being realistic and challenging the status quo.
Let employees know you are looking at organization priorities rather than just asking each person to do more. Partner with your HR Manager or engage a consultant to help evaluate your people needs. A 2011 IBM global human resource study indicates that over 80% of their surveyed companies are going through re-organizations yet only 35% have re-defined workflow and what this means for needed employee skills. This is creating huge morale issues and opens the door also to opportunities to “base line budget” or “re-set priorities.”
Change in our organizations will continue at unprecedented rates. This requires that we build a management practice around understanding our employees and creating ways to ensure we know what they value.