Founder of specialist KBB recruitment agency Foyne Jones, Peter Jones offers advice on leading teams through tough times, building loyalty and retaining staff
Let’s face it, navigating through climate change and the pandemic, which pushed millions into poverty and now a new Government in power, has not been easy for any of us.
It’s fair to say the ripple effects of the cost-of-living crisis and war in Ukraine, will be affecting us for some time and the latest pressures of rising food, energy and fuel costs will continue to dominate the conversation at home and in business, until we find an effective way to manage this level of inflation.
As a leader and business owner, this is your best opportunity to come forward, remain transparent and support your staff because information is the most valuable currency in business.
Speak up and prompt honest and open dialogue within your team.
If you’re an employer faced with a team that has a fight or flight mentality right now, take a deep breath. It is time to step up as a leader.
Avoid mushroom management
Have you ever witnessed or partaken in a mushroom management style, where employees are kept in the dark?
This is often an unintended consequence of taking a ‘need-to-know’ approach, with the mistaken belief anything at management level should be kept ‘private and confidential’ with little to no information disclosed.
I get it. I really do, especially if you’re a specialist firm operating in a highly saturated, competitive environment where sharing company policies and procedures could give up your competitive advantage.
However, without trust, leaders will lose their team. So there is a huge price to pay in keeping quiet.
By withholding information, you could be self-sabotaging your business and reputation as an employer.
Harsh but true; especially as inflation is prompting people to cut ties with longstanding employers as their finances are hindered and support unreachable.
Support your people
Time after time, I have seen good people looking for new roles because they have simply lost faith, trust and confidence in their employer.
I get so frustrated because this unfortunate state of affairs is entirely preventable!
Never assume people in your business have zero interest in how global events will impact their job, family and future.
In my experience, if you don’t involve your team in the bigger picture – good and bad – you face the likelihood of your staff filling in the blanks without facts or opinion.
Other companies in your marketplace are already standing up and making gestures of good will such as tailored rewards packages, wellness programs and other benefits.
If they are already standing up for their people, it is time for you to do the same, so you don’t risk losing your best assets.
Open up to your team and advise them on the decisions you’re making or at least weighing up.
By making your staff part of the decision-making process, you will increase overall company morale and provide a distinct separation of power between you and them.
I believe collaborative leadership is the key to creative solutions and a healthy business.
For example, what about introducing a monthly heating supplement instead of assuming that everyone wants a Christmas party this year?
Or how about going to a four-day week or offering one day a week from home to save you costs on heating and lighting the showroom, and your staff can reduce the cost of their weekly commute
This said, don’t assume that hybrid working is a magic wand – you need to factor in that your people will be absorbing the extra costs of running their equipment from home and servicing client’s needs despite saving on travel costs.
Other points could include the pros and cons of switching to an appointment-only system?
Are there opportunities for more flexibility in the workforce so that your staff can cover holidays and sick leave more effectively? What about carpooling?
Is there a better way of managing Christmas opening hours?
Which tasks can be batched together or done at different times for maximum efficiency? You could even look at your premises and see what can be done to downsize or prevent wastage when it comes to energy versus effort.
Work off the assumption your competitors are already having these conversations with their team and are getting a gameplan together.
So step up by having an open, two-way conversation about how your business and its people are going to effectively navigate the next 6-12 months together.