Don’t panic! We are all feeling the effects of the lower global oil prices and the rippling effects across the oil and gas sector and related industries. Some are seeing dark clouds, proclaiming doom to come. others are sticking their heads in the sand and pretending that nothing has changed. Some are panicking and selling investments and packing up their suitcase.
So what is the right way for a manager to deal with unprecedented change? before we get to look at what we should do, let us start by looking at 3 things to avoid
1.The biggest mistake that most managers make in dealing with unprecedented change is that they underestimate the people they lead
They mistakenly assume that their staff will not understand the complexity and future implications of the current period of change, sometimes this is done innocently and with the genuinely kind meaning of protecting our staff. the manager falsely assuming that if they keep the pressure to themselves, the staff will appreciate the protection and reassurance they provide.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
2. The second biggest mistake managers make when dealing with unprecedented change is to communicate policy changes electronically
This if often done with the good intentions to ensure that the message is communicate clearly and precisely to all staff members in a way that cannot be misconstrued. however, this form of communication usually results in lots of “coffee room experts” reinterpreting the original message by reading into the email communication what they already assume are hidden meanings. Once the “coffee room experts” have convinced themselves of the hidden meaning of the message they will propagate this to others, creating misunderstanding and confusion.
3. The third biggest mistake managers make when dealing with unprecedented change is to Panic!
Managers often in panic and make unnecessary and unhelpful changes in a bid to address the original challenge that they face. eager to resolve the problem speedily, they change things that are emotionally important to staff to save an on budget, resulting in low staff moral and unrest amongst the work force. When with a little more calmness and planning the same budgets can be reduced, but with much less impact on staff morale.
So what should we do?
1. Instead of underestimating your staff, engage them in addressing the problem
Believe it or not, our staff actually understand the challenge just as well as we do, and they have the added advantage that they know the job, what could be improved, how to save budget, how to increase efficiency in a way that will not destroy morale. So engage them in creating the solutions themselves, rather than imposing solutions that they have been no part in creating
2. Communicate face to face and give lots of time to answer questions and concerns
The staff will have questions, that if left unanswered will create uncertainty, confusion and unrest. So organize regular times where people can express their concerns and questions face to face. Whilst electronic communication is time efficient it does not address any emotional concerns and misunderstandings, so sit with your staff and explain changes face to face and ask for feedback and questions so that they may be answered on a human level rather than an organizational level
3. Reward people for thinking up creative ideas how to save increase productivity and cost efficiency
Build a reward system that actively encourages staff to come up with solutions to the current challenges, publically recognize those who are contributing ideas and solutions, champion people who are solution orientated and reward them publically for the valuable contributions they bring to the table
People will, if they feel trusted and valued, bring solutions that we as managers could never have thought of. And the good news is that people will always buy into ideas created by themselves. Resulting in higher staff morale, greater staff engagement, greater efficiency and productivity and a motivated results orientated workforce.