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9 ways to manage through change: Helping employees handle the stress of tough times

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills,Management Training,Office Management,Payroll Management,People Management

Layoffs, pay cuts and an uncertain economy have left many organizations with fewer employees to do the work—often for the same or less money.

Not all of those employees are handling it well. They’re sad, worried, distracted, burned out and low on morale.

Those kinds of feelings lead to lower productivity, often because of “presenteeism” by employees who show up but don’t feel well enough to work.

There are dozens of ways to deal with economy-induced employee stress and help your employees focus on their work.

Develop the Change-Management Skills the Times Demand – and Employers Crave

Here are nine ways to be a transformational leader on your team during these stressful times:

1. Update your message so it’s relevant during these economic hard times.

2. Check your priorities.
If your team is leaner than before, everyone is working harder with fewer resources. Eventually, that will diminish your organization’s effectiveness. Rebalance assignments to prevent overwork and focus team members on the most critical projects. Postpone tasks that aren’t top priority until you’re able to bring in more help.

3. Nip depression early.
Ask your disability benefits carrier to determine how many claims involve a diagnosis of depression. It’s probably more than you think. Once you have the numbers, increase early depression screening for disability sufferers.

4. Monitor the rumor mill. Forty-two percent of workers say they are afraid of layoffs, a CareerBuilder survey reveals. Often, those fears are based on gossip and speculation rather than actual plans for downsizing—yet the perception is what causes employees to worry and work less productively.

5. Allow telework. Employees who take over the work of laid-off colleagues often put in more hours than before. Allowing them to work from home a couple of days a week eliminates the commute and can shorten the workday by an hour or two.

6. Pat employees on the back. With raises and bonuses scarce these days, employees who use monetary rewards to gauge their value to the company have lost their touchstone. Remind employees frequently that they are valued despite your organization’s cost cutting. Reward good work with small gifts, public recognition and personal thank-yous from execs.

George Washington. Steve Jobs. Gandhi. Three vastly different people – but they do have something in common: Each of these leaders brought their followers through times of cataclysmic change, and emerged successful at the other end. How can you grow your transformational leadership skills?

To help you hone your talents, the editors of the Executive Leadership newsletter are proud to introduce ... Managing Through Change: Transformational Leadership

7. Rearrange the furniture. After a layoff, an empty cubicle is a daily reminder to those who remain that someone has lost his or her job. If cutbacks have emptied workstations, reconfigure the space or reassign the cubicles so all seats are filled.  If employees have taken on more or different work, they may need more space, different kinds of workstations or bigger file cabinets.

8. Hold Gen Y’s hand. While a Bankrate survey shows that employees age 50 or older feel more insecure about their jobs than those in their 20s, a report by Boston College’s Sloan Center on Aging & Work finds that seasoned workers are more likely to remain more productive than their younger colleagues. That’s because older employees have lived through economic ups and downs before, so they’re more resilient. Tip: Reach out to young employees with advice and assurance via blogs on your organization’s intranet or through regular emails.

9. Encourage vacations. About a third of executives in a Robert Half International survey say they’ll skip their vacations so they can focus on getting their organizations through the recession. Still, their employees should not skip theirs. A company’s hardest-working employees often are the ones who delay vacations during busy periods—and that can lead to burnout. Retain your stars by encouraging them to use their paid time off.


Join us on March 16th for this interactive webinar — Managing Through Change: Transformational Leadership — and we’ll show you how to do it:
  • How you need to play both manager and leader
  • The skills you need for successful crisis management now
  • The 5 principles great transformational leaders use
  • Are you a transformational or transactional leader?
  • 9 ways to influence others
  • 4 characteristics of transformational leaders
  • The role gender plays in transformational leadership
  • How to exercise power — and when NOT to
  • And much more!

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