2 Smart Ways for Leaders to Engage Employees When Times Are Tough

2 Smart Ways for Leaders to Engage Employees When Times Are Tough
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Do Your Leaders Know How to Engage Employees When Times Are Tough?
It can be challenging for leaders, and especially challenging for new managers, to engage employees when times are tough.  Just think about it.  Engaged employees are strong advocates for the company, for its offerings, and for the strategic plans going forward.

Is It Too Much to Ask of Employees?
That is a lot to ask of employees when times are tough.  Engaged employees also have a high intent to stick around and give more discretionary effort than their less engaged peers.  When times are tough, it is natural for some employees to begin to look over the fence at other opportunities and decrease their on-the-job effort.

When an organization or team is growing and on the upswing, it is easy to paint a bright future.  Employees typically reflect the positive vibes. They are part of a successful and empowered team and are focused on and satisfied with their jobs.  But what about when the organization is facing hard times — is it possible to keep employees engaged?

Two Main Steps for Leaders to Better Engage Employees When Times Are Tough
Employee engagement training experts say that, though more difficult to engage employees when times are tough, it is indeed possible to create higher levels of advocacy, discretionary effort, and intent to stay.

  1. First You Must be Open and Honest as You Describe the Situation
    You cannot pretend that all is well; nor should you protect your employees from the truth. Invite their questions and answer them in a straightforward way. Be as transparent as possible.  An effective current state analysis enables you to tell them what you know, what you do not know, and when you will share more.

    Otherwise, inaccurate and harmful change rumors will fill the knowledge gaps and make engagement efforts more difficult.  From an employee engagement perspective, this creates trust in leaders.

    Especially during tough times, it is important that employees trust leaders to set the right course while believing their leaders are honest, trustworthy, and demonstrate integrity.

  2. Next, Create a Goal that Employees Can Subscribe To
    The organization may be on a downward spiral but that does not mean that the team has to accept defeat. Perhaps they can support a goal of reversing the trend, getting a few small wins, cutting costs, changing approaches, or proving the naysayers wrong.

    The goal can even be getting through the tough times with grace and new change management skills.

    Make sure that the goals and accountabilities are just possible enough to motivate the troops to stretch to make it happen.

The Bottom Line
Employee engagement is more difficult and more important when things are not going according to plan.  Done right, employee engagement initiatives follow through on employee engagement survey results, increase employee advocacy, discretionary effort, and employee retention.  Done wrong, disengaged employees can make things worse.

To learn more about  to engage employees when times are tough (and when they are not tough), download the Top 10 Most Powerful Ways to Boost Employee Engagement

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