Try handling with care

May 9, 2011
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , , — jonimar @ 8:08 am

Q: Due to economics, I am forced to revoke some employee benefits. My HR director says I should inform staff first. To me that’s pointless since they have no say in the matter and that would lead them to think they did. I believe it is better to play it low key and let them discover it for themselves. Who’s right?

A: Employees understand leaders are charged with making decisions they won’t necessarily agree with or support. Anger and resistance are natural responses to change. The only hope of getting staff on board is to communicate with them early and often.

Begin your message with empathy. Imagine a perk being taken away from you without being informed. Wouldn’t you feel disrespected and cheated? What would you want to hear?

What if you were told up front of the company’s challenging situation and how circumstances are forcing a difficult decision? You still wouldn’t like it, but you would be more likely to accept it.

Expose your thought process, the tough questions you asked yourself and how you wrestled with hard choices. This demonstrates that you didn’t take this lightly. Articulate three sound and compelling business reasons for making the change. Your explanations should address their likely questions so it reduces their fear, insecurity and objections. Hard news takes time absorb.

Staff want to hear the implications for them. Give them clear and specific information about what will be the same or different. Providing a forum to ask questions, express their concerns, opinions and feelings will clear the way to move forward faster, easier and with less resistance. Finally, offer them roles in the change because people support what they create.

Originally published in The Province, May 8, 2011.


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