Supporting Staff During Difficult Times


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This presentation is from our 'Supporting Staff During Difficult Times' webinar and talks about the specific challenges facing managers in difficult times (e.g. changes to services, changing income patterns, etc.).

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  • While waiting introduce Erin and system ie chat box, polls Check sound Ask people to say where they are and where they work
  • In today’s session we will consider focus on what this means for you as managers, supporting your staff through difficult periods. We start of by setting the scene, looking at what we mean by difficult times as this means different things to different people. How are our external environments changing? We will look at the impact on staff, how might they be feeling? What is the impact on their morale and motivation? And we can start to consider what we can do to support them and what skills will help us. Things like... Managing key messages, maintaining motivation, dealing with negativity and looking at who we can turn to for help. Ask group who was part of the webinar “managing for the first time” - this was a good introduction to management and if unsure as to the role of a manager – watch the recording if interested.
  • There are so many changes happening at the moment that it is often hard to keep track. All of which impact in some way on our organisations. No matter what sector you are in the recession is biting Rising prices, changes in commissioning/tendering, changes in funding arrangements – reduction in funding and money simply not being available, so this is leading to reduction in services, redundancy, restructure – I could go on. Of course - there are also some who are facing the challenges of growth due to the fact they have successfully won contracts or secured resources to respond to the increasing need. This brings its own challenges such as increased workload, often at short notice and entering into new territory such as TUPE legislation. Ask group – poll – who has seen change in last year (Yes/No) and what was it (tick all that apply): changes in funding, services, contracting, redundancies, restructuring, winning new work After poll – are there other things – write in chat box – what sort of changes are you facing
  • The changes we are seeing is taking its toll on people and they do strange things... Remember the riots of last year – cuts to hospitals, public sector pensions – strikes – it all has an effect on people. Picture reference: Daily Mail: An Italian museum has started burning works of art in protest at harsh budget cuts in the country. The Casoria Contemporary Art Museum near Naples has lit a bonfire in its grounds and the director set light to the first work yesterday - a painting by French artist Severine Bourguignon. Luckily for the museum, the artist approved of the dramatic move and watched his masterpiece burn via a Skype videolink. Read more: So I think it is fair to say that we are all working in a climate of uncertainty, turbulence and anxiety. All will be worried about potential and actual changes, and about how the change will affect them, personally, or their work colleagues and friends. They will also be concerned about the services they provide, and the clients and customers they serve. In such circumstances, we can help all staff identify then manage their own negative and unsettling feelings. We can offer strategies and techniques, practical hints and tips, to help people respond as positively and healthily as possible to these difficult times
  • Any change unsettles even the best of us – but people are being hit from all angles. (ie personal and private) In chat box please tell me about things you are experiencing – have you had to deal with difficult situations such as redundancies – do you feel you have coped? How are you feeling generally? Even though things may be ok in your organisation, if a staff member has experienced changes at home, even the slightest thing may make them start worrying, perhaps about losing their job. We are focussing today on how to support staff during difficult times within your organisation – but of course people may also bring their problems to work and some of the skills we look at later can be used in those situations.
  • You will find yourself supporting staff who feel insecure, vulnerable, anxious and possibly aggrieved The prospect of losing your job is unpleasant, especially as there are so many other factors changing – rising prices (food, energy), interest rates, petrol, increase in uni fees, changes in housing market .... They may be unhappy at the reduction or loss of services, how does this affect their clients - contracts/staff may be tupe’d to other orgs so their colleagues may be leaving. There may be a restructure going on ... You may not be their manager for long And if changes are happening, but they are staying and they are losing their colleagues it is important to recognise that these staff need support during the process too. And we mustn’t forget the growth side of difficult times – staff might feel overworked, under qualified etc – need to address this on a one-to-one basis as all will have different responses to the change and will need different solutions and support mechanisms. What sort of issues have you had to deal with – with your staff
  • You are managing the change process, which is often not of your making, which you might resent, and which adversely affects your staff - and themselves – but you have to take it forward and .... Be supportive and positive about it You might be making people redundant or redeploying them You may be managing the increased pressure and workload of doing more with less for yourself and others And of course you will be rebuilding the morale of those who remain
  • Have a look at this – how many of you have come across this before? People respond to change in different ways = but there is a process - discuss different phases Knowing where they are on the curve and how you as a manager can help them is an important way of supporting your staff.  You also need to be aware of where you are as a manager to ensure you can communicate change and support them positively.  If you are in the anger phase then how can you realistically help your staff?  People move through the curve at different paces – enlisting members of your team that progress through the change fastest to support the others is a good strategy and one I have used recently.
  • There are lots of things that you can do and this is what we are going to focus on today... Take the lead Be supportive Communicate clearly Lead by example Focus on the positives Look for alternatives we will look at some of these in more detail Can any of you share what you have done recently – I am keen to hear your thoughts and participate in the webinar and discuss ideas with others so even though I might be covering it in my presentation, please tell me your experiences What has worked well.... What has not worked so well!
  • First of all when faced with a difficult situation – or things are just generally not going well Make sure: you are aware of all the facts You have explored appropriate options before making any decisions or communicating with staff Don’t pre-judge an issue or someone’s reaction to a difficult situation Do consider what the different reactions could be – and what your response might be People are entitled to be upset or angry (expect it to be directed at you!) You are going to have to tell your staff what is going on – but decide what your message is – and be confident in your approach
  • This session looks at how you can support your staff in difficult times, and usually the situation you find yourself is outside of your control. It is important you inform people when there are difficulties and let them know what you are doing about it. The trick is to manage that message – tell them what they need to know – when they need to know it. So communicate clearly, you choose the format but think about the consequences – email regarding redundancies ... Inappropriate. Say it how it is ...Be honest - Honesty about the situation, but not brutally so – be real but don’t scare people stupid, they’ll seize up and won’t produce good work and this will only contribute to stress levels. How much do you have to tell them? For example – if you are potentially going to lose a contract, or think a project wont be refunded, give them the news first – even if you think that this will result in redundancies it might be appropriate to drip feed the message. Also, even if things are so bad that redundancies are inevitable, think about how and when you convey that ... All at once might be too much for some people. Try to include a positive as well, tell them what is being done to alleviate the situation or work towards a solution and encourage people to come forward with ideas. however difficult you may find telling them bad or difficult news - the alternative (not communicating) will make them much more unhappy, and may prevent them looking for something else (it might even land you in a tribunal) Treat everyone the same, and give everyone the same information You may be surprised at the results of doing this – some people will be supportive, some will be scared, some may come up with solutions, some may even work harder.
  • Discuss possibilities of reduction in Motivation This is one of the most important things you must do, but possibly the most tricky Try to build team spirit, communicate individually, but also as a team. (I don’t mean naked of course ... My colleague pointed this out and I am sure the chaps have trunks on....) Listen with your eyes and ears ... Pick up on what is happening around you – people might not say anything directly to you but you can learn a lot from watching and listening If one member becomes a bit de-motivated and despondent it could spread and change the atmosphere in the office It must be stopped, sensitively so let’s look at what you can do Always be firm but fair, and be consistent – everyone must be treated the same
  • Be Positive – look at what work you do have and ensure you do a good job – that is one way to build your reputation and potentially win new work By focussing on objectives people will realise they are there to do a job, and they must achieve, no one will be allowed to fall behind (this can help with the apathy) Of course people will have off days (even you) but focus on what you cant rather than what you cannot Lead by example Be visible, talk to people, have regular one to ones to maintain motivation, encourage, support and ensure people are able to achieve their objectives and of course if they are not, have those difficult conversations - vital
  • Look for the positives – encourage the team to look for new opportunities. Dont just sit back and let it all happen to you. Happen to the situation rather than having the situation happen to you. One that springs to mind might be a sailor who uses and controls the wind to get him where he needs to be – he can’t create the wind but he can make sure it doesn’t blow him off course. Believe in yourselves and think hey we are good, what else can we do, who else can we work with. Has anyone got any good examples of how they have diversified or tackled a situation head on and come out with a fab or unexpected result.
  • In such circumstances, we can help all staff identify then manage their own negative and unsettling feelings. We can offer strategies and techniques, practical hints and tips, to help people respond as positively and healthily as possible to these difficult times. Think about what we have covered today – help them to analyse their feelings, look at the positives, look at what there is to do, what their objectives and responsibilities are currently and how they can make a positive impact by finding a way forward. If they are going to be losing their job look at how you can help, review applications, help them with their cv and improve their interview and presentation skills. If the organisation is fortunate to be able to offer help with training, help them choose appropriate courses or qualification. What have your experiences been has anyone had a person or team who have been really negative... Sometimes the one person can bring everyone down to their level (negativity wise I mean)
  • It may seem an odd thing to think of but is this is an excellent way of motivating people It will give them new skills should things turn out for the worst It will look like you are trying to do something for them It can bring in new skill sets to the team Of course ... Money may be tight so you need to think of alternative ways of financing it or providing the learning Eg job shadowing, mentoring & coaching, working with another organisation (sharing skills) Has anyone had experience of this?
  • Often that is just as important – reassuring if possible, but honest and fair. Sometimes you have to stand your ground, dont let people take advantage Be professional at all times (save any frustrations for the gym) Just being there is often enough, as I said before, be visible – dont disappear into your office and hide
  • Ask the group to say what skills are needed here – we are asking a lot of ourselves and we need to be prepared – Anything I have missed Planning Negotiation Communication Presentation Monitoring Motivation Problem solving Goal setting
  • Poll Have you sought help from ACAS HR in-house External HR adviser Professional Helpline Sector body or association None
  • To sum up... Here are a few of my top tips for today
  • Supporting Staff During Difficult Times

    1. 1. Welcome to Today’s Webinar: ‘Supporting Staff During Difficult Times’.The webinar will begin promptly at 1pm and last approximately 45 minutes. The webinar will be delivered by Tracy Gee. Tracy has worked for PNE for over 20 years, and spent many of those years designing and delivering training and as a coach and assessor to managers in the voluntary sector. Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    2. 2. Supporting Staff During Difficult Times Tracy Gee Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    3. 3. Today’s session• Changing environments• Impact on staff• What you can do as a manager• Key management skills• Sources of support Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    4. 4. Changing EnvironmentFinanceEconomicsPublic FundingGrantsCommissioningUnemployment Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    5. 5. Changing EnvironmentRead more: Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    6. 6. What does this mean for you as a manager? Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    7. 7. How might your staff feel? Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    8. 8. What about you? Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    9. 9. The Change CurveMORALE/PERFORMANCE Denial Commitment Shock Anger Acceptance Resignation TIME Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    10. 10. So what can you do? Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    11. 11. Take stock... Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    12. 12. Managing Key Messages...• Communicate clearly• Choose the format• Say it how it is• Choose your timing carefully• Be consistent• Keep people up to date Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    13. 13. Maintaining morale and motivation Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    14. 14. Focus on the now• Concentrate on what you can do• What are the current priorities?• Revisit current plans• Reinforce team and individual objectives Lead by Example Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    15. 15. Ignite the spark Encourage the team Share ideas Look for new opportunities & markets Celebrate successes together Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    16. 16. Dealing with Negativity Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    17. 17. Look at CPD! What are the options? Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    18. 18. Being there... ...and listening Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    19. 19. What skills do you need?• Planning and goal-setting• Communication• Listening• Motivation• Problem solving• Negotiation• Managing Expectations Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    20. 20. Support for you?• Sector bodies or membership organisations• Management Institutions eg CMI, ILM• Professional helpline• Your line manager• HR professional• ACAS Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    21. 21. Top Tips• Treat people as human beings• Communicate openly and effectively• Be clear and consistent• Be honest about the situation• Don’t pre-judge an issue or someone’s reaction• Be seen to be firm, fair and consistent – to show that everyone is being treated the same Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    22. 22. Top Tips (cont..)• Listen with your eyes and ears• Be positive and constructive – Look to the future• Keep everyone focussed• Engage the team in generating ideas• Happen to the situation rather than having the situation happen to you• Celebrate success Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (
    23. 23. Thank you for participating!Did you enjoy today’s webinar? Why not look at some of our courses on This month only you can purchase the Personal and Professional Development online course for £15. Follow us @globelearning ‘Like’ us on Facebook /globelearning Follow us on twitter (@globelearning) ‘Like’ us on Facebook (