Keep communicating to avoid downturn disruption

The news about redundancies has made for grim reading over the past couple of months. Some of the world’s leading companies are trimming their workforces due to the economic pressures of the recession. So how can companies stabilise the workforce to make sure these redundancies aren’t divisive and disrupt business as usual?

Businesses need to understand what it is that employees look to from their leaders, whether that be the senior team or line managers, so that any action plan can address their concerns as much as possible.

Between 2005 and 2008, Gallup conducted more than 10,000 interviews with ‘followers’ to discover what they look for from leaders. They were asked to name the top three positive attributes in leadership, and with no prompting, the answers distinctly fell into four areas: stability, trust, hope, and compassion.

Part of this is making sure the entire management team is in step. Uncertainty among employees is the greatest enemy – they need to feel confident, secure, and reassured. As a result, if managers aren’t able to directly address their team’s concerns and are uncertain about the future as well, this will negate any action from the leadership team.

The steps above sound like the things you should be doing anyway. But the difference is that during a recession, the challenge is that much more acute, and the stakes are that much higher.

Christian Hasenoehrl, managing partner, Gallup

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