As Economy Sputters, Stay Tuned to Your Team
With the U.S. economy failing to gain any significant traction, workers may be struggling with the effects -- at home.
With so many households containing two working adults and the unemployment numbers still hovering around 9 percent, chances are some of your team members are carrying the load while a spouse or partner is looking for work. Or, they could be struggling to keep their homes, cars or pay bills.
As a leader, it's certainly not in your scope of responsibility to fix these problems for your staff, but you can stay tuned to individual team members, provide support -- and keep your team productive.
An effective way to do this is through a "touch base" meeting process. Hold periodic one-on-one meetings with each team member to talk, informally, about any issues or concerns. If possible, meet face to face. If your team member is in another location, talk by phone.
Keep meetings relatively brief—15 to 20 minutes. Jot down a few questions in advance to guide the conversation. You don't want to ask personal questions of the staffer, but you can encourage them to raise issues that might be affecting their work or blurring their focus.
Some questions to pose that can open up the conversation are: Do you have the resources and support you need from me to do your job? Or, How are you able to handle your workload?
Be sure to note any follow-up actions and keep true to completing them. Demonstrating by action that you care, personally, about your team goes a long way to build your credibility and trust over the long haul.
One more thing to do, acknowledge -- in staff meetings or one-on-ones -- that you realize the stresses the economy and business climate is putting on virtually everyone.
Letting them know you understand it, and providing support where appropriate, can go a long way in solidifying their respect for -- and trust in -- you as a leader.