It’s been a tough few years for most businesses and it seems that 2012 will see even greater challenges if economic forecasts are to be believed. The natural instinct is to drive the business onward and upward – expecting those that work for us to do the same. The tendency is to put plans and processes in place to ensure efficiency; to become more stringent about absences and what staff do within work time; and to become more target focussed. All of this is perfectly understandable and appropriate – after all the people in the business all need to be paid for the work they do.
It is important to remember that just as businesses are going through a tough time, so are a lot of people, with the increased costs of living and possible unemployment of a partner. Additionally, you may have already had to implement reduced hours or a pay freeze for a year or two.
So yes, do expect the best from your people, but also retain sensitivity. Take time to understand their circumstances. How can you allow flexibility within your current structures and arrangements? Communicate with them regarding the position of the business, what you are doing and why. In so doing you will retain their support and their best endeavours through the ongoing tough times.