During Tough Times - Talk!

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By Beverly Kaye, Founder, Career Systems International

I recently talked to a client in a fairly large organization who was at her wit’s end by recent restructuring and impending layoffs. She was responsible for the engagement survey in her company and wanted to know “how do I keep people engaged when all of this is happening?” And, “what advice do I give to the managers who are even more in the line of fire?”

This made me think of the importance of plain old talk…. frequent conversations are critical when there is turmoil in the air.

During times of change it is even more important for leaders to touch base with their direct reports. In fact, multiple studies show that the more frequently managers meet with individuals on their team, the more engaged the team member will be. It is a generally accepted understanding in customer service that every single interaction a person has with the customer is an opportunity to build their emotional connection or diminish it.

The same is true for managers and their direct reports. There are always formal opportunities like the one-on-one, the performance management conversation and the individual development planning conversation, but more than that are the many opportunities in the every day work flow that offer the chance for a quick comment…”here’s what I noticed”, “that was well done”, “here’s why”, or a question about an upcoming project like “what do you hope to learn from that?”

Have those conversations with your employees. Keep the lines of communication open. If real talk is absent, the grapevine will take over!


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