This the second of several postings this week regarding the June issue of the Harvard Business Review.
How to Be a Good Boss in Bad Economy by Robert Sutton (HBR June, 2008, 42-48)
During tough times, Sutton, as Stanford professor, finds that bosses get less sensitive to people’s needs, but people spend a lot of energy and time focused on their bosses actions and intentions—a cauldron that produces toxic gases that erode trust. Here’s what he suggests:
1. Predictability: Give first…give people information. The more they know in advance, the better prepared they are, even for the worst news.
2. Understanding: People can handle the “what” if they know the reason, the “why.” Make communications clear, concise, and to the point.
3. Control: Don’t scare people with the overwhelming size or difficulty of the situation. Frame it in such a way as it’s solvable or attainable. (Remember, you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time!)
4. Compassion: If you have to let people go, show the utmost of empathy. It helps them deal with the near-death like feeling of losing a job and also demonstrates to the “survivors” your character. It’s a VERY tough event for everyone but allows you to actually build trust if done with dignity and style.