" I can't promise anything
in this climate. . . "
Dear Kristine: I work with the greatest group of people on earth. They're competent, professional, highly skilled. They are, however, human.
This past year has been hard on us. Even though I'm in a "recession proof" industry (education), my employees have caught the national fear of unemployment. One of my top managers asked me in front of a group of subordinates last night to "come clean" and tell him when I was going to start to downsize.
I don't see it in the future - but I can't promise anything to anyone in this climate. How can I encourage my staff to stay productive while all around us our world is falling apart?
At home, even my husband is afraid my business will belly up. What do I do with all this negativity in my life? Help me, Kristine, and I'll buy you a martini next time I'm in Minneapolis.
Dear Lois -
Lois, Lois, Lois . .. what makes you think you can escape any of what is currently plaguing the entire nation?
Your employees and husband are not "negative." They live in the real world where the income provided by a spouse or partner is vital to the well-being of the family.
You can't placate your staff with empty promises. You refuse to assure them you won't can them as soon as your business begins to tank.
And you lie to yourself if you think any industry is "recession proof."
My suggestion to you, dear Lois, is to join the human race.
Instead of denying your staff's critical concerns, address them. Acknowledge that we are living in precarious times. Assure them you are aware of their anxiety; do not downplay or belittle their worry.
Bring their fear into focus by creating an opportunity for service and outreach. Set aside one evening per month for the staff and families to volunteer at a local nonprofit.
Serve the evening meal at a homeless shelter. Read to the children at a shelter for battered women. Visit neglected seniors at a nursing home, or plan a trip to the Veteran's Hospital in your community.
Show your "competent, professional, highly skilled" staff your compassion - and they might begin to trust your intentions.
Who knows? You might acquire the very thing you demonstrate.
And as to the martini? I'll pass. Show us your heart, Lois. We would all like to be more intoxicated by your charity than anything else.