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Communicate to Employees in Tough Times [Fulfillment@Work]

Fulfillment @ Work




May 18th, 2010
   ISSN: 1533-3906

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MESSAGE FROM JOEL http://www.dreamjobcoaching.com/joel.jpg

Please forward this newsletter about communicating in tough times to your family, friends, and coworkers.

To subscribe to Fulfillment@Work, click here.

What kind of leaders do employees want to guide them through these tough economic times?

According to a recent study conducted by Towers Watson, a worldwide professional services company, employees hunger for leaders who connect with them on an emotional level.

They want leaders who are:

  • Trustworthy (79%)

  • Care about the well being of others (67%)

  • Encourage the development of talent (56%)

  • Highly visible to employees (42%)

How do you or your leadership team measure up?

Connecting on an emotional level is also important when communicating difficult news to employees.

Breaking bad news - especially when it affects peoples' lives, careers or jobs - is never easy. And when handled poorly, can even make matters worse.

But if you take advantage of the tips I've listed in the article below, your communication efforts will be much more effective.

All the best,


P.S. I hope you've had a chance to check out my weekly updates on Parade Magazine's website. As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I'm providing job counseling to Steve, a client who has been looking for work for more than six months. As you'll see, we've made a lot of progress in the past few weeks!


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How to Communicate in Tough Times

So many companies are announcing layoffs, corporate re-organizations and downsizing due to the recession. Most do a poor job communicating negative information to their employees.

Here are some practical tips on how do effectively deliver negative or difficult information:

  1. Make the communication as personal as possible.
    Ideally, employees should be told bad news on a one-on-one, face-to-face basis. Obviously, this isn't always possible. However, ALWAYS deliver the initial information via a live human being, not by an email, voice message or employee newsletter. Then use these other less personal communication channels for follow up information and progress reports.

  2. Start with "the big picture."
    Begin by putting your company's situation in a larger context. Explain how market forces, changes in the economy, reduced customer demand, price-cutting by competitors, etc. are impacting your organization. In other words, tell employees WHY these actions are necessary.

  3. Focus on the facts when sharing negative news.
    Employees have an easier time embracing negative news when it comes in the form fact-based information. Make sure your tone is neutral when delivering the news.

  4. Show what you are doing to improve the situation.
    Employees need to know what you are doing to make the situation better. They are pretty aware of all the negative issues going on and don't want this to be the entire focus of the communication. They need hope that the situation will improve.

  5. Be honest and transparent.
    Employees know when management is trying to hide something and it can affect the trust between them and management. The more transparent management is to the actual situation, the better the outcome in the long-term. If you don't have an answer to a question, admit it. But promise to follow up as soon as the information becomes available.

  6. Make sure management takes responsibility.
    Don't share the blame or get on the defensive when sharing the negative news with employees. Management needs to be accountable for what happened by taking responsibility when appropriate.

  7. Show that you care.
    Management needs to bring empathy and understanding to the challenge this situation brings to the employees. Recognize that employees feel angry, frustrated and powerless. Management has an opportunity to show they care and are doing everything possible to make the situation better.

  8. Continue sharing information once the negative news has been released.
    Management needs to keep the updates going as new information comes in after announcing the negative news. Employees need to feel informed so they don't feel surprised by any more negative news.

  9. Express your appreciation to your employees.
    After delivering negative news, it's important for management to continue to reinforce how much they appreciate each employee.


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"Effective communication is 20 percent what you know and 80 percent how you feel about what you know."

~ Jim Rohn

"Speak when you are angry and you'll make the best speech you'll ever regret."

~ Dr. Laurence J. Peter

"They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel."

~ Carl W. Buechner

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Copyright 2010, Joel Garfinkle, all rights reserved.
The top online resource for creating fulfillment at work!
Visit:   http://www.DreamJobCoaching.com    or    http://www.GarfinkleExecutiveCoaching.com
Contact Info: 510-339-3201 joel@dreamjobcoaching.com

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