Restoring Employee Confidence after a Business Setback
Employees are some of the most important resources a company can have. And employee confidence in their employer, its future, its stability and its leadership is critical. But after a business setback staff can feel uncertain about the future of the company they work for and understandably anxious their professional futures.
That’s why, following a business setback, it’s essential to rebuild trust and restore confidence amongst your staff. Restoring employee confidence is one of the key things a turnaround professional will address when working with a company in distress and also applies to companies recovering from a setback be it poor financial results, the loss of a big customer or the shutdown of departments or product lines.
While the response to setbacks will differ depending upon circumstances, here are five actions a company can take, regardless of the level of setback or size of company:
Own the setback
As with any relationship, the first way to build or rebuild confidence and trust is to be honest. Burying your head in the sand and pretending everything is okay in front of your staff won’t fool anyone. Rumours spread and are normally far worse than reality. That’s why transparency is key and owning up to the fact that things didn’t happen as planned and helping staff to understand what did happened is important to retain their trust and remind them that they’re valued and part of the team. In this case, over communication is okay.
Listen to your staff
It’s important for company leadership to share information with staff, but it’s also important to create a general culture of transparency. Start by inviting honest feedback from your staff and make sure they know that you will actually listen to and act on what they say to you. Respecting the concerns your staff will have about the situation and giving them an outlet to share their concerns is crucial. While leaders may be dealing with ‘big’ issues like getting the company back on track and containing reputational damage, staff will be concerned about their futures and showing empathy for how worrying that can be is important.
Be clear about your forward vision
When a setback occurs, it can shake staff confidence about the future for them and their position with the company. That’s why it’s important for company leaders to reiterate the company’s core values and vision for its future. Company leaders should show that they are united in this vision and it helps to be specific about timelines and action steps that will be taken to achieve it.
Show commitment to change
Having identified what happened and how the setback occurred, it’s then crucial to show your staff that you’re committed to preventing it from happening again. That means embracing change and understanding how things can be done better going forward. If you allow old habits to slip in, staff may worry about the culture of the company whereas if you show commitment to doing better, they will feel reassured that the company is doing everything it can to prevent future setbacks and remain stable.
Involve your staff in decision making
Finally, to successfully rebuild staff confidence in the business and their future in it, consider giving them more responsibility and more of a say in decision making. Of course, some decisions can only be taken by senior leaders but allowing staff to contribute on things that will affect them will help them to feel more invested in the company and will create a greater sense of loyalty. Decisions where you ask for input could include flexible working policies, the use of new software, selecting a charity to support or asking them to help build a sustainability plan. Report back on the outcome of such contributions to show that their opinions are taking into consideration and make a difference.
With all these actions, communication is key and if staff feel that they’re being kept informed and are considered part of the solution then their confidence in their job and the company will be restored.
TMA UK is part of TMA, a global organisation that represents the interests of turnaround professionals as its members who have the skills needed to assist companies in challenging times. If you need assistance, please contact our helpline on 0844 804 0116
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