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Focusing on Purpose in an Uncertain Environment

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 17, 2009

During these tough economic times, it is important to avoid descending into panic mode. Rather, we must refocus on the fundamentals that make us, and our organizations, strong: our purpose and our people.

As fear and trepidation hold sway at the boardroom table, we can rest assured that similar emotions will be felt in the staff lunchroom. During the toughest times, it is more important than ever to maintain an open and constructive line of communication with your employees. We are in a period of great flux—the kind of change that can make or break the passion, cohesion, and alignment of a team of employees.

No doubt many of us have asked ourselves over the last number of months, "What can we do in our organization?" We have little or no influence over what takes place in the corridors of political power but we can take steps to steady the ship in our own headquarters. Here are four straightforward measures you can take today to keep heads cool and assure your people that you will combat economic trouble together:

a. Gather your employees together and convene an open discussion on the impact of a tighter economy on the business, team morale, and people’s livelihoods.

b. Ask for ideas and suggestions on how the business can best meet the challenge together.

c. Discuss how you will maintain client and customer loyalty through, and beyond, a turbulent period.

d. If layoffs become a possibility, be straight with people about it. Formulate a strategy together, with everyone’s input for dealing with layoffs in the most fair and humane way possible.

The most crucial factor for you to consider is that your employees are likely to be even more fretful about the economic situation than you are. The worst thing you can do is to be too pessimistic yourself and keep them in the dark about its impact on the business.

In a time of struggle and hardship, we need to summon our strength and leadership. Give it to people straight, face the problem together, and they will fight with you every step of the way.

Keith Ayers
Integro Leadership Institute
Sydney, Australia

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