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Manager’s Tool-Box: Tips to Manage effectively through tough times

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Yes, these are tough times. The darkest downturn in the history - jobs are scarce, morale is low. Yet, there are a few strategies that can help you as a manager to make the most of the downturn and …

Yes, these are tough times. The darkest downturn in the history - jobs are scarce, morale is low. Yet, there are a few strategies that can help you as a manager to make the most of the downturn and emerge stronger.

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  • 1. R. Attri Professional Effectiveness Series, Paper No. 2, Oct 2009Copyrights © 2009 V. Sriman / R.K. AttriManager’s Tool-Box:Tips to Manage effectively through toughtimesVenkatesan Sriman, Raman K. AttriYes, these are tough times. The darkest downturn in the history - jobs are scarce, morale islow. Yet, there are a few strategies that can help you as a manager to make the most of thedownturn and emerge stronger.1. Do not add to the panic. Stay calm;maintain your composure andprofessionalism. A distraught manageris the last thing a company would wantin times like these. A manager whopreserves his cool will have a soothingeffect on his team and willtremendously increase his stature as aleader.2. Have a list of backup projects ready: Adownturn is usually a period of reducedactivity and use these slack times to getthose done. Employees might be fearfulof losing their jobs and sincerity mightcome naturally to them, so it is a goodidea to make use of the fear factor in apositive manner. Also, keeping yourteam busy serves another purpose – itprevents them from spending too muchtime on worrying and spreading rumors.An idle mind is indeed the devil’sworkshop. A recession is certainly atime of great uncertainty. However,even in very uncertain times, there willbe certain activities that are clearlydefined. Focus your team’s efforts onsuch tasks that are clearly cut out.3. Sternly discourage spreading ofrumors. An employee who indulges inrumor and speculation affectsproductivity in two ways – one, he/sheis wasting precious work time and two,rumors can spread and affect theproductivity of the entire team. This canbe catastrophic for morale. Make it clearthat such things are unacceptable. Also,encourage employees to approach youfearlessly for any information. Rumorscannot thrive in a culture oftransparency and forthrightness.4. Develop team-building rituals. Crisisoften has a bonding effect on people.Use this bonding power to create a loyaland cohesive team. A team buildingactivity need not necessarily be anexpensive outing at a posh resort orfive-star hotel. Even a simple thing likehaving coffee together at the pantry oneevening every week can be an excellentteam building activity. Don’t discusswork during these informal gatherings.5. Talk to your team regularly. At thistough time, the team members,especially working under you expect
  • 2. R. Attri Professional Effectiveness Series, Paper No. 2, Oct 2009Copyrights © 2009 V. Sriman / R.K. Attriregular updates and probe more intoaffairs. Encourage, reassure andmotivate. But at the same time, resist thetemptation to paint a rosy picture whenthings are not good. It is a toughbalancing act, but has to be done.6. Help employees to manage their fearsand get things in perspective. Forexample, one of every eight persons diesof cancer. Even if a company lays off10% of its workforce, the risk is still lessthan dying of cancer – and a layoff is notfatal.7. Maintain transparency about theretrenchment process. In the event thatyou have to let go of people, do it in ahumane, professional and decentmanner. Explain the rationale behindthe decision to the remaining employees.8. Document the lessons you learn in adownturn. Encourage your team todocument their activities andaccomplishments. This can help them tohave a sense of fulfillment about theirwork and this documentation will alsohelp you present your team’sachievements to your highermanagement. Meticulousdocumentation of accomplishments andactivities is always good, especially in adownturn.9. Preserve your own work-life balanceand encourage employees to do thesame. After all, it is not the end of theworld. Humankind has weatheredmany a storm and life will go on.In the future, talk about “how we facedthe tough times together”.If you are a HR manager, this is a good timeto make an indelible mark. It is a sad factthat, in many companies, a HRmanagement team is actually a HR adminteam in disguise. A recession is a wonderfulopportunity for a HR management team toactually live up to its name. HR should notshy away from motivating people.In summary, a recession like the currentone is a terrific opportunity for a managerto demonstrate value to his/herorganization. It is a good idea to visualize arecession as a shake-up that allows thementally strong to gravitate to the top.Authors:Venkatesan Sriman is training professional withover 4 years of industry experience. RamanAttri is Certified Management Consultant andTraining management professional with over 15years of industry experience. Contact:rkattri@rediffmail.com.