3 Things Employees Need in a Critical Hour
If your organization is trying to make it through the current crisis, then perhaps the person we should pay attention to is Mary Lou Casey who said, “What people really need is a good listening to.”
While listening is right up there, there are actually three things employees need the most during uncertain times.
1. They need to know we’re in this together.
Recently, one executive confessed, “Our budgets are being cut dramatically. In the face of uncertainty, we want to defend ourselves, even against our own people. Fear says, “I’m going to make it through this alone, whatever the cost.” Courage says, “Our calling, our vision, our work as an organization is so much bigger than any one of us. We’re in this together.”
2. They need a genuine sense of trust.
In the midst of trials, your people (leadership included) need to know they can trust each other. Heated situations can push down and threaten trust. Yet, like lowering a bucket into cool, deep, well water, you can bring trust to the surface in at least two ways:
- If you’ve already surveyed your people and acted on their feedback, then you’ve already done some good, initial work. Shared efforts breed mutual understanding and develop collaborative muscle memory. In the midst of the current crisis, one employee put it this way: “I’m so thankful we’ve done the work of strengthening our culture before this tragedy hit. We know how to trust each other at this time.”
- If you sense that needed trust is up in the air, try this simple exercise with your team: Take a few minutes to lead out and tell the story of how, in the past weeks, you achieved something at work you couldn’t have done on your own. Describe, for instance, how a task that began with “me” widened into a collaborative effort of “we.” Double bonus points if you can share this story directly with that same colleague.
3. Finally, your people need to know their leaders will show up and care.
Consider the leader who took these words to heart. “Last week, I spent an entire Saturday calling every single one of our team members at home. I wanted to listen to what was on their mind and heart. ‘How are you doing? How can I pray for you and your family?’ It meant everything to every employee trying to make sense of the “new normal.”
Whatever this “new normal” may come to look like, God is there with his vulnerable, trusting people. As Ruth Haley Barton has shared,
“I think of a church leader who shared her journey of desiring a deeper intimacy with God and beginning to arrange her life more intentionally around this. As a result of her openness and vulnerability, her fellow elders felt free to voice similar desires and over time, the entire elder board was enlivened to seek God and pursue a deepening practice of discerning and doing God’s will together in the context of their leadership.”
In uncertain times, employees need leaders to show up, make the effort, listen, pray, and be present to where their people are really at. By acting on what your people need right now, you can look forward to a two-fold return: The immediate impact of demonstrating courage, trust, and caring can help forge a new, lasting resilience so that your organization is poised to survive and thrive on the other side of the crisis.
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