Interpersonal Edge: Sharing key facts decreases employees' anxiety in times of change
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency
Q. My company is facing huge changes starting next year. Rumors are flying around the company, but we are trying to keep the facts about the changes quiet until 2017. The problem is that, along with the rumors, we have increasing anxiety flying around our office. How can we in upper management manage the anxiety without revealing all the data about what will happen next year?
  A. Anxiety is like mushrooms, it grows in the dark. If you want to stave off anxiety, you have to provide basic information that quells the growing fear among your employees.
  Your upper management doesn't have to reveal the entire corporate plan to the entire staff, but key facts should be distributed. Meet with your colleagues and outline the most popular rumors. Now make a list of all the fears these rumors are generating. Common employee fears during changes are layoffs, demotions and salary reductions.
  Now make another list of what data you can publicize without creating consequences for your company next year. Make certain your list outlines facts about staff or salary changes. All social research proves people do better with bad news than no news. If employees know there will be staff or salary changes, they can prepare. If they don't know anything, what they make up in the gossip grapevine will be far worse than the actual changes. 
  Be aware that most employees don't need you to get into the small details of upcoming changes. What employees do need and want is the overview of how future changes will affect their specific job. The more you can reassure employees that their jobs will remain stable and predictable the more resilient your employees will be next year.
  Also pay attention that with large-scale organizational changes comes uncertainty even for the management team. There are only so many variables that senior management can control. Forces like the economy, consumer preferences or innovations in your industry are not predictable.
  Be willing to share with your employees the variables affecting the changes that you can control and the variables you cannot control. Encourage your employees to be part of solving the problems the changes will create. 
  Admitting vulnerability is an overlooked tool in a manager's leadership skillset. If employees realize you don't see or know all, then they can help be your eyes and ears in your industry. If you mislead them into thinking you are omnipotent, they will expect you to have super human powers during these transitions.
  The last word(s)
  Q. There are several promotions I am interested in at work. Is there a best way to position myself to be moved into one of them?
  A. Yes, make sure that in your current job you are replaceable. If you can't be replaced, you'll have difficulty being promoted.  

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.

Printed in the November 27 - December 10. 2016 edition


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