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DEAR WORKFORCE

Doing More With Less

How do we cope with employee stress from them having to do more with less? Like many companies, ours has had to make tough choices in recent years. So far so good, but we want to defuse any problems that might arise.

—Chief Worry Officer, services/software, New York City

August 8, 2013
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Dear Chief Worrier:

When a company has had to make tough cutbacks, one of the most important dynamics is to ensure that everyone in the company makes some sacrifice.

Conduct A Town Hall Meeting. 

Consider having an “all hands” meeting for the troops to review where you’ve been as company-division-department, etc. – bumps and strengths – during this challenging transitional time. (And if necessary make it Web-video friendly.)  For example, you might hold a panel forum with employees from an array of levels having an opportunity to share what the challenges and stress points are. Some humor here is especially invaluable. People are less defensive and more open to a serious message gift-wrapped with humor. 

In addition, highlight what has been learned, including improvements made, noteworthy efforts and achievements, as well as areas to be strengthened.  Perhaps give out some awards.  Especially underscore areas in which there’s been interdepartmental sharing and synergy. This means that not only did systems “circle the wagons” in tough times, but they interlinked, supported, fortified, and coordinated as well.

Seek Team-Department Input. 

Perhaps after the town meeting (or even in preparation for the big event), do a similar “local” analysis as noted above. The more strongly that people believe they are being listened to (that their diverse worries and ideas are respected and considered) the more likely they are to see themselves not only as not part of the problem, but also instrumental in the solution. Finally, people will begin seeing you as a meaningful change agent – an aware, effective and responsible individual who impacts mind, motivation, and morale and is also worthy of trust.

Be Transparent, Generate Trust. 

Management, in particular, can do two things to facilitate trust. First, remember that transparency and trust are soul brothers. Share openly with folks what you know and what you don’t know. Don’t fudge facts. Be clear when you are speculating.  Don’t put a positive spin on a problem to suppress angst in the short-term.  That Yin energy will likely turn around and bite you in the Yang.

Second, allow your audience or team members to raise tough questions and even to challenge some decisions made. Employees want leaders that can handle intense and intimate interaction without getting defensive.

Make Psychological Hardiness a Priority. 

Executives needto demonstrate the “four C’s of psychological hardiness."

1. Commitment: They are committed to finding work-life balance.

2. Control: They're ok giving some of it up and embracing new challenges

3. Change doesn't scare them - they recognize the opportunities it presents

4. Conditioning: They stay physically fit, which also helps them emotionally

Follow these four resiliency building measures and your ship should stay the course even amid rough seas. 

Source: Mark Gorkin, The Stress Doc, Washington, D.C., July 25, 2013

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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