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Taking charge in times of organisation stress

A policy of drift could prove hugely detrimental to staff morale

Gulf News

When an organisation is going through a restructuring process, there can often be a negative impact on general morale and confidence due to changes in individual or departmental responsibilities and staffing levels.

However, there can also be a negative effect on efficiency in other situations, for instance when a major contract has been lost, there are cuts in staff benefits or employees are required to work longer hours.

Although employees may do their utmost to work hard even when morale is low, enthusiasm, creativity, motivation and productivity can all suffer as a consequence.

Whose role is it to identify the signs and take the required action? Well, the recommended way is for the HR director to take the lead with all in his/her department working alongside to reinforce the same message. At all times of organisational change, all employees need the reassurance of the organisation’s commitment and vision in going forward and feel a valued part of that future.

Some of the warning signs that might affect individual teams within a department, or within the organisation as a whole, include increased absenteeism, leave of sickness, interpersonal or inter-departmental conflict and reduced morale and enthusiasm. Action should be taken as soon as any of these signs are recognised by managers who should demonstrate themselves as being positive role models, even when their own morale might have dipped.

It is important that the manager needs to be aware of how their own attitude is being seen by others. They may not immediately realise that their own behaviour is not conducive to raising motivation levels within their own team.

They will need to ensure they exude confidence and optimism, even if they themselves are sometimes less than optimistic. Within management, the skill of appearing to be upbeat is an essential attribute.

You may ask me: “How can they achieve this?” Think about the situation. Your team is looking to you for inspiration and guidance and if you exhibit confidence, then they will too.

 

Try these strategies to understand the nature of the issue:

 

* Providing learning opportunities:

If the organisation has downsized, use the opportunity to raise the personal development levels (CPD) of those who remain. Ensure assessments and training are available while looking for ways to develop individual potential within your team. It may be certain individuals may be required to do a different job to the one they were doing previously and may need re-skilling or on-the-job reassessment.

 

* Develop a positive relationship with the team:

Regularly walk the talk. Instead of sitting at your desk all day, start walking around the department. This will enable you to touch base about personal events that are happening inside and outside of the office, thereby building rapport and resolving small issues before they become large ones.

 

* Increase staff autonomy

Encourage your managers to delegate responsibilities and to ensure all staff are fully accountable for their actions. Employees should be encouraged to work towards agreed goals which should be celebrated when they are achieved to encourage others to follow suit.

 

* Clear direction

Employees should be completely clear as to what is expected of them and within what timeframe. Encourage them to identify the impact of their role on the bigger picture, as it is all too easy to work in isolation without feeling part of the team.

 

* Retain your talent

At times of organisational change, this is precisely the time when you do not want to lose your best talent, owing to low morale. These are the very people who will probably find it the easiest to get a job elsewhere - so you need to hold on to them. Ensure that timely conversations take place as to how they see their career progression and reinforce how the organisation values their skill and expertise.

The secret is to make your people feel valued and important - particularly during times of change. That way, motivation and morale will remain strong and company loyalty, firm. Now that can only be good idea!

 

Key points

 

* Organisational change can affect morale.

* Retaining key talent is vital.

* Increase staff morale by leadership example.

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