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How to Build Empathy into your Restructure

How to Build Empathy into your Restructure

In this economic climate, the reality is that many businesses are needing to restructure to remain viable. For those employees affected, a job loss, in addition to the multi-faceted anxiety that pandemics, flood and the cost of living has created, can be devastating.   

We all necessarily have to take note of the legalities of how to implement a change process in a way that is fair and minimises the risk of any personal grievances being raised.

Rigidly following due process does minimise potential risk. It can also sometimes leave the impression, with both those affected and those employees who remain in the business, that the employer is cold hearted and uncaring. Given the past few years, these perceptions can be especially strong.

Change processes are more successful for all involved with empathy built in along the way.

The feeling that exists within the organisation during the restructuring process and afterwards is a clear indicator of morale and also how employees view how the process has been handled and communicated. This in turn affects engagement and productivity, as well as potentially leaving an indelible mark, either positive or negative, on the organisation’s employment brand.

So, the ideal is to strike an even balance by following a fair process but doing so with a very strong sense of caring and empathy for all of those affected, both directly and indirectly.

Outlined below are some practical pointers of how to show caring during the process:

  • Ensure that you plan the restructure very carefully so that it is professionally done
  • Make sure that an essential element of your plan includes a filter of empathy and caring throughout
  • Develop well thought out and carefully worded communications. As with any communications on a difficult subject, the facts have to be stated, but it is how you say and communicate them that makes the difference. Maintaining confidentiality is important. However, it is helpful to have others in the team understanding the need to be supportive of those directly involved
  • Take the time to put yourself into others’ shoes and tread lightly
  • After outlining the proposal, offer to allow impacted individuals to go home for the rest of the day or deliver the proposal mid-afternoon and let impacted employees go home then
  • Understand that different people respond differently and take that into account at the time
  • Outline access to the company EAP service or in the absence of this, the Government funded ‘Need to Talk? 1737’ service for counselling support
  • At the proposal meeting, offer time to employees during the work day to get their thoughts straight around what feedback they may wish to provide and prepare for the feedback meeting. Arrange cover if they need it
  • Realise it can be a difficult process for all concerned – CEO, Manager implementing the change, impacted employees and other employees. Be available to hear and discuss concerns from anyone throughout the process. If the issues raised are beyond your skill set, encourage people to access EAP or 1737 or seek other appropriate outside assistance
  • Sometimes the content of a proposal may take a while to process. Be available for additional questions or meetings if you think your employees require it
  • For those whose roles are disestablished, provide support with up-dating CV’s, LinkedIn profiles and practical guidelines on navigating the job market at this time

Separating from a business is counter-intuitive for a human being’s natural desire for social connection and approval. Showing caring and empathy never goes amiss, and can work towards reducing the stress for all concerned. Apart from being the right thing to do, especially at this time, it also sets your organisation up as one that will be respected for its ethos.

This will have positive spin offs of loyalty, commitment and engagement from those remaining.

If you need help navigating restructuring, please make contact with us. Positive People have over 25 years of experience partnering with medium sized businesses. Call us on 09 445 1077 or email info@positivepeople.co.nz 

Chanel Finnigan No Comments

POWER Skills for Leaders

As we have thankfully advanced towards the Covid exit gate, it has become clear to perceptive leaders that things have changed in their relationships with employees. The hybrid working model has become almost the norm and working hours, working patterns and work locations are, in many organisations, up for negotiation. Some Companies have resolved these easily, some not so.

As a leader and manager, it requires you to stand back and take some time to assess how well are you managing the people in your organisation in the current employment climate. Have you just picked up where you left off and are you carrying on as before? Or have you done some deep thinking as to what your team now need from you to perform at top levels?

A quantum leap in thinking on leadership and management skills is required.

This entails re-evaluating what have traditionally been known as hard and soft skills. Hard skills have historically been the skills most valued as they are relatively easy to teach and are strongly focused on the job at hand. So-called soft skills have historically been grudgingly acknowledged as a requirement for managers to have, but really existing as a side show to supplement technical skills. If there was a choice to be made, hard skills won every time.

This is no longer the best paradigm to use to guide both the recruitment, and predict the success, of leaders and managers.

The reality of today’s working world is that the so-called soft skills have come out on top and emerged as the most critical for any manager to have. They are now rightfully referred to as Power Skills and are the essential skills that any manager needs to create a top performing team that can successfully drive an organisation forward.

In the past, the use of the word “soft” has in fact discredited their value and has been a real barrier to their adoption within organisations.

If creating the right working environment for employees to flourish and prosper in an organisation is seen as key, then ensuring that leaders and managers have Power Skills is essential.

Companies find their biggest challenges not so much in the technology space, but in the values, strategy, innovation, change, ethics, culture, diversity and growth arenas.

What are Power Skills?

Power skills are basically behavioural skills:

  • Communication style
  • Creating and promoting a Vision
  • Negotiation ability
  • Team building
  • Reading a room and responding appropriately
  • Innovation and creativity
  • Changing to accommodate different circumstances
  • Understanding non-verbal cues
  • Successful collaboration

Power skills are complex and are difficult to acquire.

They require emotional intelligence and the ability to be aware and mindful of what is right in front of you, rather than hinged to pre-conceived notions. They are closely linked to life skills but in a work environment also have a commercial slant. They require an element of wisdom to successfully apply. They also require a deeper understanding of what makes people behave the way they do.

Because they are behavioural, Power Skills require leaders to lead by example in both what they do and, importantly, how they do it.

Hard skills still, of course, have a critical role to play in determining success. Employees and customers alike expect a leader to have a wide and deep understanding of the technical details and workings of the products or services on offer. However, there is now a real acceptance that Power Skills are such a huge determinant of organisational success that they have been elevated to the front row.

So, how can Power skills be learned?

A commitment by the Senior Leadership Team to the central importance of Power Skills is the starting point. This will usually translate into Leadership Development programs that encourage collaborative learning. Collaborative apps can also have a part to play here.

Commit to elevating Power Skills in your organisation and reap the benefits.

Have the discussions around the benefits of having Power Skills elevated to be a non-negotiable and central management and leadership skill. Then fashion and deliver a leadership development program, one step at time, to train and grow your senior team.

We can guide and support you to have the important discussions and develop a customised Leadership Development program that moves your organisation’s thinking and implementation of Power Skills forward.

Call us on 09 445 1077 or email info@positivepeople.co.nz