It's often easy to feel good about your company culture when things are going well. New programs. Extra profits. Hiring new staff. Success generally feeds a sense of optimism among your staff.
But how do you keep your staff feeling excited when you are going through hard times?
Faced with an uneven economic recovery, your teams may have smaller budgets than the pre-recession boom years. Or you may be navigating a merger or acquisition that your staff is facing with trepidation.
Whatever "hard times" looks like for you, challenges can take a toll on your culture. Hard times not properly handled breeds fear. And fear erodes great culture.
The secret to addressing fear among your staff is two-fold:
Keep them focused on the things that are core to the company that everyone can rally around: your core values, your deeper purpose, the 5-year vision that unites everyone behind a common set of goals; and
Give your staff a sense of community and control by engaging them in the hard choices.
Again and again I hear from staff going through hard times comments like:
"I don't know what's going on."
"My opinion doesn't count."
"I'm just keeping my head down."
When you start hearing these comments, these are the signposts letting you know: Your staff feel out of control, and because they feel out of control, they feel afraid.
In the video above, Eileen Fisher executives take a journey back to 2009 to share how they held onto trust and community through the recession. Their antidote? Engage staff in deciding what to cut as their profit margins shrank.
What are the difficult decisions you are facing? How might you put into practice the principles above to help you and your staff successfully navigate the challenges before you?