“Everything’s going to be fine!” Is one of the least helpful statements you can say to someone. It may very well be true, but it often feels trite and dismissive. If you were in the car with a friend driving through a new city when the engine started smoking and a flat tire interrupted your pleasant conversation, “everything’s going to be fine,” does not soothe the siren ringing in your mind. When a pandemic sweeps through the world, dramatically changing the way you grocery shop, host a birthday party, school your children, and go to work a swift “everything’s going to be fine,” does not provide a sense of security or direction. When chaos swirls around you and challenges face you head-on, it’s more helpful to hear a game plan. Your employees feel this way when it comes to the company. During seasons of difficulty, a plan of action is more comforting than a placated remark. A team meeting that glosses over the challenges at hand and concludes with, “We’re going to be fine!” does not empower your team. Honesty does.
Avoid A Pep Rally
You may believe that during stressful seasons, motivation is the key to your company’s success. If you can inspire your employees to work hard and keep their spirits up, then you’ll survive these trying times and start thriving again. However, a new study revealed that the opposite is true. Only 20% of study participants claimed that they received open, honest communication from their superiors about the challenges the company is facing. Employees feel that they cannot trust their leaders’ judgment if they receive a glib “it’s all good” motivational speech. And if they believe they are purposefully left in the dark about what’s going on within the company, job performance and job satisfaction plummet. Do not hide challenges behind a mask of optimism. Instead, be honest about the difficulties the company is experiencing and establish a plan to keep moving forward. You will find that your best employees rise to meet the challenges and propel you through the lean season.
Ask These Questions
This is the time to evaluate your company’s tendencies during stressful times. Assess your team leads and managers to determine who values transparency and who masks challenges by asking these questions:
- How often do I share the challenges our company faces with my team?
- What do I fear will happen to my team if I share negative information with them?
- What do I fear will happen to my team if I don’t share negative information with them?
Get feedback from your employees to gauge how they perceive communication and how the information they receive impacts their job performance by asking these questions:
- What challenges do you think our company is facing?
- Do you think our leadership openly communicates our company’s challenges?
- Do you think our leadership is honest about the state of our organization?
If your employees cannot list some of the major challenges your organization faces, then it’s time to get to work and begin having honest conversations about what’s in front of you. However, this is not a meeting to announce that the world is ending. A dooms-day proclamation is not synonymous with openness. Rather than invoking a sense of helplessness, share the potential pit-falls and hurdles and then work out a plan of attack. Cast vision for overcoming each hurdle, or give your team space to brainstorm a solution.
Challenges don’t have to be ignored to protect company morale, and they certainly aren’t a reason to raise a white flag. You’ll promote unity, innovation, and resilience when you opt for honest communication. If you’re ready to increase employee engagement by training your leaders to communicate openly, contact FrontLine Leadership today. We now offer FrontLine Online, a virtual training experience with the same powerful impact as our in-person program.