Susan's Musings

Just Thinking Out Loud

Managing Staff Through The Tough Times

Managing Staff Through The Tough Times

While there are businesses that may be thriving, the recent recession and its aftermath mean that it’s been a tough few years for a lot of businesses.  If we are to be honest things are likely to remain tough for the next few years as we contend with Government cuts, problems with Europe and what have you. The natural instinct under these circumstances is therefore to knuckle down and focus – expecting those that work for us to do the same thing – grateful that unlike so many others they have work.

The tendency is to put structures and processes in place to ensure that we things work both effectively and efficiently – this is something I highly recommend. I also advice on the need to become more stringent about absences and what staff do within work time – this is something else that most businesses will probably be doing now. Additionally most businesses will also be becoming more focused on targets and expect staff to have the same focus.  All of this is perfectly understandable and logical – after all unless a business is run on volunteers and unpaid interns, the people working with you are being paid to get a job done in what is now a very competitive market.

I do believe, that it is, however, important to remember that just as businesses are going through a tough time, so are a lot of people that work with us.  What with the increased costs of living and the possible unemployment of a partner; close family members and/or friends,  this can all very easily serve to put pressure on those fortunate enough to have a job.  This type of pressure on staff may also be enhanced if you have already had to implement reduced hours or a pay freeze for a few years.

So yes, do expect the best from your people, but also please be a bit sensitive too.  Where possible take the time to understand their circumstances. Allow for a little flexibility within your structures and processes if it will help them without being detrimental to the business.

Fundamentally communicate with them on the position of the business, the plans that you have for the business i.e. the strategy and the logic behind it. Be open to their input and ideas – they may actually be the source of input that makes all the difference to your business.

In balancing the requirements of your business with the needs of your staff, I believe you will attain their crucial support and their vey best through the on going tough times that we are all faced with.

Copyright 2011. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated

Value Begets Value

I don’t typically watch Action category movies, but years back I watched the Rambo movies and although I can’t remember much of the story lines there is a particular scene from Rambo II that I have never forgotten.  It’s a scene where Sylvester Stallone a.k.a. Rambo is in a boat with a young Vietnamese lady.

The lady asked Rambo why he was sent on the mission that he was on.  He replied – “because I’m expendable.”  The lady not understanding asked him what expendable means to which he responded – “it’s like someone invites you to a party and you don’t show up, but it doesn’t really matter”.  During a later stage in the film, Rambo was about to embark on a dangerous part of his mission.  As he sets of the lady called out to him and told him “Rambo, you’re not expendable”

The truth is no one should be seen as expendable as every human being is of intrinsic value.  Whether at work, home or play there is a need to understand what individuals unique talents are in order to tap into them.  However, there is additional a more general value that everyone offers that can be tapped into with minimal effort.
I was reminded of this recently when I bumped into an old friend that I hadn’t seen for quite some time.  She told me that she hadn’t been very well and had therefore been compelled to take some time off work.  On the first day that she went back to work she still felt quite drained and so her manager sent her off to see the organisation’s Occupational Psychologist.  It was agreed  that in order to accommodate her, that she should leave work  a couple of hours early over the subsequent few weeks (with full pay) in order to enable her to fully recover.

I also had a conversation with a manager in a school who had an employee in a similar situation.  He allowed her to work from home one day a week in order to prevent her from relapsing.  In many ways these employers were making pragmatic decisions to prevent a situation whereby they ended up with employees who were not able to work to full capacity over extended periods. After all an employee whose health is not 100% is unlikely to be able to work to 100% capacity anyway.  Besides if an employee under such circumstances is to push himself/herself to hard, he/she could end up going of sick again.   Some employers in a similar situations would however, not want to provide their employees with such support for fear that things would be taken for granted.

The truth, however is that for most people just as for my friend, such actions by employers make people feel valued and when they feel that they are valuable to their employers they tend to want to work that much harder to add value to the organisations. Besides which they become the biggest advocates for the organisation.

Susan Popoola
Conning Towers
HR Transformation & Talent Management
Leveraging the Power of People

Copyright 2011 This document is the specific intellectual property of the Conning Towers Consultancy. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated from content obtained from other sources and such content is referenced as appropriate.

About The Author

Susan Popoola

Susan is a Human Resources Capital Optimisation Specialist specialising in areas inclusive of Talent Management with additional interest in a number of other areas inclusive of Education, Community and Social Justice.

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