“Hey boss, could I ask you something? You know we just had a baby last year, and we bought a new house too. I’m just wondering, how’s the company doing?”
It’s reasonable for your team to be asking you questions like this right now. Truthfully, if they aren’t asking you, it’s because they are too scared!
Everyone feels the uncertainty and is carrying a high level of anxiety and dread around all the time.
Breaking news: Fear and dread are not good for employee engagement or effective team dynamics.
When people are afraid, they tend to center their thoughts on themselves, “How can I get what I need? How do I protect myself and my family?” They tend to take fewer risks. “Let’s just do this the way we’ve always done it…”
But what we need right now is for everyone to pull together, to put in their best efforts, and get creative.
How then do we move the minds and hearts of our team members, from that place of fear and scarcity, toward an engaged team environment?
Tell people the truth (without panic)
It’s tempting to tell everyone, “Hey y’all; it’s going to be fine. We’ve seen tough times, but our clients are strong, and we’ll be just fine.” But, even if that’s true right now, no one is buying it!
We all know that unemployment is rising to unprecedented levels. Unemployed people don’t spend as much money. Neither do people in quarantine! With consumer spending down, the economy is going to drop. First, it will hit the B2C companies, but when they stop buying from the B2B companies, it will be on your doorstep too.
So, be honest, “Right now, we’re all busy. We’re in a good cash position. But the future is cloudy.” Or whatever is true for your business as best as you can see it. Don’t speculate, just tell folks what’s real.
But, it’s also true that…
Even though there’s uncertainty, there are some things you do know.
- Our business is going to change. That means you are each going to be asked to do some things differently, or even play different roles.
- We’re all going to have to learn and adapt.
- We’re all going to have a better chance of figuring this out together, with everyone’s ingenuity and creativity.
If you can be with your team in the uncertainty — without getting swallowed up by it, you can help to pull everyone back together into a place where we can overcome that natural selfishness, increase engagement, and start moving forward.
How are you answering these questions for your team?