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Increase Communication to Ease Employee Anxiety
By Wendy Mack Published: 12/02/2009
A great way to stop the uncertainty often felt by your employees is to create an environment of confidence by communicating with them well and often. In difficult times, the rumor mill works overtime among your employees and you need to respond to the rumors fast. It is critical for senior management to talk freely and honestly with the workforce in order to keep the rumors in check. This article gives five strategies to help ease employee anxiety and stop the rumor mills in their tracks.
1. Be Accessible
Senior management should make it a priority to be seen by and accessible to their entire workforce. It is key that, if there are problems or challenges that the company is facing, you do not wait until they have been resolved to let your employees know. Rather, keep them apprised as to the steps the company is taking and the progress it is making as the situation evolves. In challenging times, it is even more critical to be there and available to your employees. It is not only important to communicate and to share with your employees, but to establish confidence in the company in order to keep the rumors and gossip to a minimum.
2. Don't Hide From Bad News
Your workforce knows times are rough and that the company will need to make changes to adapt, so there is no reason to keep bad news from them. Trying to pretend that all is well will only result in a distrustful workforce, and communicating with them will become even more tough. The best course of action to stop rumors and gossip is to communicate openly with your employees about the changes that are planned. If they trust that you will give them the updates and information they seek, your employees will stop gossiping and wait to hear the truth from you.
3. Emphasize Personal Communication
Its easy to deliver bad news via memos or e-mail communication. While personal communication takes more time, it is key to the continued productivity of your employees, which is a core priority. Studies have shown that trust is developed through face-to-face communication as well as that your message is more clearly understood via personal delivery methods. While there is always the chance that you are asked a question you don't have a good answer to, this should not be an area of concern. Your employees are much less concerned with your perfection as they are with your honest effort to communicate directly and keep them in the loop.
The two-way conversation in face-to-face communication is a huge advantage. Many employees will be able to give you solid suggestions to resolve the challenges the company faces, but this is not the only advantage to listening to your workforce. The mere knowledge that senior management values their ideas and reactions to the situation enough to listen and speak with them can propel your employees to re-commit to the company and to you as a manager.
5. Admit You Don't Have All the Answers Yet
Talk as honestly as you can about what you do know and what you don't. Your employees will recognize that you can't know everything, and it will help to build trust and clarity if you explain why some details are still uncertain. Don't make promises you can't keep - if you are unsure, talk about probabilities and possibilities instead.
The only way to get the best out of your employees is through communication, the foundation of good management practice. Regardless of the company's situation, make it a goal to always communicate openly, truthfully, and frankly.