Lessons from uncertain times
Divya Nagpal 2nd April 2020 91Category: Learning & Development.(0)

It was a tough time for business. Some of you would know the recessionary times about a decade ago. Many organizations were losing business. Both local & international clients were canceling assignments. Unaware of the time required for markets to bounce back, as leaders, we had the responsibility of retaining employees & keeping them motivated. One client retracting meant about 250 employees losing jobs.
Time was uncertain, but we knew one thing. And that’s what the top leadership took charge of…
COMMUNICATION – In uncertainty, the one mantra which works is maintaining transparency with all stakeholders. Here is what we did as an organization.
1. Leaders started to have regular & structured communication forums with employees, Town halls…. Emails…. Addressing employee queries in meetings, no matter what be the mode, the leaders were available to answer the tough questions. All leaders spoke the same language. At times, there was no answer, and leaders admitted so. There was no shying away.
2. Leaders took inputs from “the feet on the street” employees, to combat the situation. What the leaders got was – workable suggestions.
3. Focus groups were made to implement the solutions. In the town halls, employees volunteered to implement the solutions. Some suggestions worked and some did not.. That’s ok
4. Communication with clients happened to re-negotiate the scope of work. Now we saw clients wanted faster turnaround. Our middle management started to relook at the way of operations and employee skills and competencies. This mitigated the uncertainty.
5. Leaders also promised that employees will be taken care of. This was tough, and the organization kept its promise.
6. As leadership team, we ensured, each fear and emotion was heard. Even if we could not do much about it. At times, employees just need an ear.
What we saw, this approach, created relationships amongst the hierarchy levels, created informal groups cutting departmental boundaries.
Of course there were people who spread negativity, but that communication started to recede.
Were we as leaders, certain, that we would achieve what we were promising… not 100%, but we knew we were reducing the risk and anxiety of our people and channelizing their minds to work.
Yes, this is past and we did get through it.

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