Sunday, October 24, 2010

Leading Your Workforce During Wartime

Leading Your Workforce During Wartime

In the days and weeks since the war began, the workforce has been on an emotional roller coaster. People fallen to terrible lows of fear, anger and frustration, risen to mountain top experiences of patriotism, and fallen again.

(PRWEB) April 3, 2003

In the days and weeks since the war began, the workforce has been on an emotional roller coaster. People fallen to terrible lows of fear, anger and frustration, risen to mountain top experiences of patriotism, and fallen again. On and on it goes. While no one knows the when the war will end, one fact is indisputable: the out-of-control emotions of our employees will have an impact on our organizations. How can business leaders lead in the wake of this situation?

No two people will respond to these events in exactly the same way. Some may seem unaffected, others may exhibit out-of-the-ordinary behavior, and still others may react in dramatic ways.

Managers have a critical role to play in these uncertain times; indeed, how managers treat their employees today will continue to resonate tomorrow. Managers need a strategy for helping their companies get through the current crisis. I offer the following 10 steps—which is organized under the acronym TAKE CHARGE—for managing, motivating and leading your employees in these difficult times:

T-Target fears and anxiety. Employers who act appropriately and provide a supportive workplace will go a long way to improve retention and loyalty after worklife returns to normal. People traverse through a span of emotions during wartime beginning with concerns over their individual safety, their family, their friends, their job and finally their financial security. Managers should have plans to address each of these concerns in order of importance.

A-Accept the fact performance and productivity will drop. People respond differently in crisis situations. Expect to see lower attendance, difficulty concentrating, refusal to fly on airplanes, and requests for sick leave and increased absenteeism-all normal responses. People will need to talk more, natural aspect of dealing with the war. The more they talk the healthier the organization becomes.

K-Keep communication open. Information is powerful—an energy source. Meet with staff members at all levels to identify concerns, as well as to promote resources and other services. Use focus groups and town hall meetings to help people deal with the crisis. Keep websites updated and provide a place for people to watch or listen to the news at the workplace.

E-Educate managers and supervisors. Front-line supervisors and middle management are the backbone of the organization and the first-line of defense. Training should include how to identify and reduce stress, as well as how to refer individuals to professional assistance if needed.

C-Calm, confident and compassionate leadership style. DonÂ’t underestimate the importance of your personal leadership style. Simple expressions of concern and consideration go a long way. Managers should compartmentalize their own personal feelings.

H-Help those in need first. First and foremost-make no assumptions on how people feel in time of crisis. Some individuals may need professional assistance—so insure they understand how to access the employee assistance program. (EAP) Family members and employees activated for military service are particularly vulnerable. Identify employees who have family members in the military and also know those employees who are in the reserve and National Guard. Insure they know, by law, employees activated for military service will be guaranteed a job when they return from active duty.

A-Allow people to display their emotions-People are as diverse as their emotions and they display them in different ways. Allow them to display flags, peace symbols, and other mementoes in good taste. Some companies have made provisions for their employeesÂ’ spiritual and emotional health.

R-Restrict negative behavior. No matter how you feel about the war, make sure you draw the line to prevent abuse, harassment and venting of their anger on other people. Make clear, in no uncertain terms that behavior of this sort will not be tolerated and will be dealt with in the strictness terms.

G-Get people to focus on a higher calling. War and terrorism creates psychological damage on individual self worth. It violates them and attempts to rob them of control over their life. ManagementÂ’s role is to help give control back to people to focus, to motivate them toward a cause where they can make a difference. So therefore, encouraging employees to help with a charity, donate blood, sending gift boxes, or to focus on something to give them a feeling of control will motivate people to move on.

E-Expect and plan for the inevitable. It is everyone's hope this conflict ends soon with a minimum loss of life. Begin planning how your organization will respond to those employees and their family members who may lose their lives or become Prisoners of War while serving on active duty. Decide now about sending representatives to attend funerals, sending flowers, or other expressions of condolence. Keep your disaster plans and emergency notification rosters updated. Prepare yourself for what could be a long and emotional campaign.

Embracing these ten steps is not only the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do from a business standpoint. Your employees will remember how you treated them and their family members during this highly emotional time. If you want your organization to be a place the best and the brightest will want to work in the future, you must be very careful what you do in the here and now.

Greg Smith is a nationally recognized speaker, author, and business performance consultant. He is a former military officer and served in the U. S. Army for twenty years. He has written numerous books including his latest, Here Today, Here Tomorrow: Transforming Your Workforce from High Turnover to High Retention. Greg has been featured on television programs such as Bloomberg News, PBS television, and in publications including Business Week, USA Today, Kiplinger's, President and CEO, and the Christian Science Monitor. He is the President and "Captain of the Ship" of a management-consulting firm, Chart Your Course International, located in Atlanta, Georgia. Phone him at 770-860-9464. More articles available: http://www. chartcourse. com (http://www. chartcourse. com)