By: Kimberly Abel
Halloween is here and it’s a spooky time of year, especially if your organization is going through a change or transformation. And that’s just about everyone. If you’re a manager, leader or in HR, nail-biting, spine tingling experiences may be playing out in your workforce right now:
- Your employees are not giving extra effort – they do what they’re told…and no more.
- You have a large number of passive resistors – these are people who “show up” but don’t actually embrace change or transformation authentically. Their effort is just enough to get by.
- You have some active resistors – these are employees who sow seeds of dissent and actively promote messages of resistance throughout the organization, putting the culture at risk.
- You even have a few strategic saboteurs – these are people who take resistance to a new level and actively work against solutions and processes, instead they throw up roadblocks to moving forward.
- Many employees are thinking about leaving or have taken steps to leave – recent polls have put over 50% of workers into “disengaged” or “intent to leave” category. These disenfranchised employees are putting their energies into other activities and are focusing elsewhere.
- Some are talking to others in the organization about leaving – when people think about, or make plans to leave, they often share their frustrations and intent with their network at work. This “spread of negativity” operates like a scary virus that can infect the entire group or organization.
- Some top talent has left the company – turnover costs the company… big time. It’s not just the out-of-pocket direct expense to recruit and hire, the real cost is the knowledge, experience and wisdom that has walked out the door.
Formally, signs that employee engagement, motivation and performance are being impacted include goals that aren’t being hit, low employee engagement scores, higher absenteeism and turnover rates, even higher healthcare costs. But before formal metrics are realized, you will sense a subtle shift in the culture – perhaps it is manifested in lower energy or enthusiasm or that morale has declined.
If any or all of the above are some of the chilling things taking place in your organization, there are some antidote potions that will work:
Be patient but responsive. As a leader, this is time to respond by setting laser-sharp priorities and crystal clear communication by defining the specific tasks that align people, activities and energy to accomplish goals. Developing goals in times of upheaval and change by balancing what the business can become with what it can realistically achieve will help align and focus people towards a vision they can both embrace and successfully execute.
Listen well. Practice psychological openness or ability to consider multiple perspectives. People respond to stress, change and upheaval differently. Being psychologically open enhances candor, communication and permeates the entire social system whereas being psychologically closed or judgmental causes distance, fear and problems.
Appreciate, Recognize, Reward, and Celebrate. It then becomes incredibly important to appreciate effort, recognize performance, reward results and celebrate success. Nothing will galvanize the workforce more than feeling a sense of purpose, momentum, appreciation and winning. There are basic human drives and motivations we all experience. In fact, Paul Lawrence and Nitin Noria at Harvard University have grouped these drives into four categories: the drive to acquire, the drive to bond, the drive to create and the drive to defend. Central to all of these drives is emotion. The decisions we make about goals and other choices in life are based on these drives and the emotions we manage in pursuit of goals. Being appreciated and recognized makes goals more personal, relevant and memorable.