Gallup's recent research about what followers want from their leaders; trust, compassion, stability and hope show us that people do their best work when leaders create the environment that fosters a reason to believe. To most people, the things they want to believe include:
- The leader
- The vision
- The company
- The mission
- Their peers
- Their safety
Stability and hope in today's day and age can be tough, fleeting. There remains a notion that the shoe may drop, especially as organizations are forced to adapt and change to increasing ever changing marketplaces. Look at Circuit City, Best Buy, Blackberry, Borders and Nokia. Companies once thriving who were not able to change with the times and are now grappling with how to survive, or pivot towards the new direction. For thousands of people working in these organizations the insecurity and uncertainty is palpable. Today, all companies know the stakes are high and the tolerance for failure remains razor thin. Not helping most employees concerns are today's unemployment rates are still a dismal 8.2% with 12.7 million people now unemployed- and 5.4 million of those are long term unemployed for 27 weeks or longer (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics June 1, 2012)!
So what should a leader do in the face of perhaps his/her own concerns about his job, his career growth opportunities? What we have seen work in even the most dismal of times is this:
- Recognize you have a responsibility to be as transparent as you can for the good of your followers and the good of the company. We know first hand that even communicating bad news in a compassionate way yields higher marks from talent than keeping a secret that the whole organization knows before the press release confirms their fears!
- Treat people how you want to be treated. Listen to their fears, share their worries, brainstorm solutions. Help them see the silver lining. After the crisis passes or the difficult change is implemented, gather the team together and thank them for their support in weathering the turbulence.
- Offer them hope. Fight the battle with them.
These aren't just nice things to do, they engage your people for the long term and allow productivity to prosper even in the most challenging times. They pave the way for a better high performing team tomorrow.