Identifying effective people management strategies for uncertain times
PA’s international ‘Managing Uncertainty’ survey looks at how business leaders responded to the economic crisis and identifies which strategies proved most successful. The survey’s findings show that companies that cut costs in a targeted manner performed better than those that cut costs indiscriminately.
However, even organisations that implemented targeted cost-cutting found that this alone was not enough to secure the success they sought. To achieve their objectives, they needed to support their efficiency measures with proactive people management.
Implementing the right people management strategies can help organisations optimise their response to the economic crisis. The three main areas of focus should be to: build effective two-way communication between managers and employees; strengthen employee engagement; and ensure managers have the skills they need to lead through uncertainty.
Build effective, two-way communication between managers and employees
Managers play a crucial role both in communicating key messages to your employees and in feeding back to the organisation how employees are responding to uncertainty. You should therefore:
Establish a communications framework: Put a structure in place for communicating through a variety of channels and at speed. Make communication two way in order to encourage and monitor feedback from employees and ensure they feel their voice is being heard. One tool for doing this is PA’s ‘Moodometer’. A leading professional services firm used the tool over a critical three-month period to identify ‘hot spots’ of emotion in the team, and track reaction to key business decisions.
Recognise the power of emotions in the change process: People change because they want to, not because of the power of logical argument Recognise that you need to secure the hearts as well as the minds of employees to bring them with you.
Engage people by communicating a compelling and flexible vision
Successful companies have employees that are excited by their company’s vision. Engage your employees by communicating a clear vision that is nevertheless flexible enough to respond to changes in the fluctuating business environment. You should:
Create a sense of purpose: Recognise that motivation goes beyond traditional financial rewards. To get real commitment that lasts through uncertain times involve employees in your purpose and vision. IHG is a good example of a company that does this. The world’s largest hotel group has 350,000 employees and each is seen as a brand ambassador. The company makes a sustained investment in communication, visualisation, celebration and team-leadership. As a result, IHG is voted one of the best big companies to work for, with 88% of staff recommending the company in its 2011 survey.
Build effective performance relationships with employees: PA’s approach to performance management emphasises the importance of developing real dialogue with employees. Employer and employee should work together to create motivating objectives and every employee should be clear about their role in delivering business objectives. An example of this is the new performance management approach that PA helped introduce at Carnival UK. Employees were involved in defining what the new system should be and this helped strengthen buy-in and motivation.
Make sure leaders are equipped to support employees through uncertain times
The specific challenges that come with periods of uncertainty mean that your leaders may need to develop new skills. Your priorities should be to:
Coach your leaders to act as great role models: Managers are currently experiencing a prolonged period of professional and personal uncertainty and yet the way they lead their teams is more important than ever. Offer your leaders one-to-one or group coaching in the skills and capabilities they need to manage the challenges of uncertainty. PA considers change leadership skills to be key to transformational change and has emphasised this in its work with organisations including BAE Systems, GSK and the Department of Health.
Encourage your leaders to act as advocates for your organisational values: In difficult times, your senior leaders need to reinforce the organisation’s values continually, be more visible and display greater levels of emotional intelligence. Behaviours that are out of line with the corporate values can quickly undermine communications and strategy. One of the most important enablers of employee engagement is developing leaders you can trust. This was demonstrated when one of PA’s clients, a major retail business, uncovered a clear link between high levels of engagement, high levels of performance and a strengthened leadership team.
To find out how the right people management strategies can help your organisation succeed in uncertain times, please contact us now