All businesses go through difficult periods. Sometimes they’re because of things we can impact upon, such as trying to expand too quickly, whilst other times they’re because of things outside of our control – an economic recession is a prime example.
During these times, it’s obviously important to simply ensure you can keep your head above water. However, this shouldn’t be your sole focus, as your staff, for instance, need a lot of care and attention.
Difficult times are problematic for the organisation, but they can be extremely worrying for your staff – and when your staff are worried, they’re unhappy and inefficient.
It’s therefore imperative you do your utmost to empower your staff more than ever, with there being one clear step to follow to achieve this.
And that’s to constantly engage with your staff.
When your small business is facing difficult times, it can be tempting to buckle down and try to ride it through, telling as few people as possible about the potential problems.
The issue here is some employees will always find out. They may not discover exactly what is happening, but they’ll be able to work out that not everything is as perfect as they first thought.
It’s like finding out bad news about a friend or relative from a third party in this sense. Imagine you learnt that your brother was struggling financially through someone you didn’t really know. You’d be annoyed. Frustrated. Upset.
If your brother had come to you and told you directly, you might have been able to help. You might not have been able to do anything at all, but it’s the fact that you might have been able to because you knew about the situation.
Telling your employees that your small business is having a difficult time at the moment isn’t going to inspire them or fill them with confidence. If they’re engaged with in the right way, however, it could see them want to help. They might understand that they need to be at the top of their game and if they are, it could be of benefit.
What’s also important to understand is that engaging with your staff isn’t just about telling them as a whole about the problems being faced, but it’s about listening to them.
When you need to empower your staff, you need to communicate with them in the most effective way possible – and the only way you can do that is if you first listen to them.
You need to take the time to listen to their individual concerns. You need to understand what they’re worried about and determine whether or not you can do anything to ease their concerns at the present moment in time.
You might not be able to, but conversely, all it might take is for you to provide further information or clarification on something. A lot of the time, worrying is caused by not knowing, so the better educated your staff are about something, the more likely it is they’ll be able to cope with it.
You should always be doing your utmost to empower your staff, but when times are difficult, you need to step up your game.
It might seem difficult, as you’ll have a dozen other things to concentrate on, but by simply engaging regularly and effectively with your employees, you’ll be able to feel confident that you’re doing as much as you can to empower them – and simply put, empowered staff are happy, efficient and inspired staff, which is just what you need, particularly through difficult times.
This article was originally featured on August 28, 2012.