Sometimes, events within or outside an organization will leave your team shaken. Violent incidents, the stresses of the pandemic, a natural disaster and changes at work are all reasons why people may feel uncertain or discouraged.
In these circumstances, it may be difficult to find the right words. While some people can come up with an inspirational speech straight out of the movies, others may be less sure of what to say. If your team needs encouragement and reassurance, try these tips:
- Consult with Human Resources. Determine what resources are available to assist employees who may be feeling overwhelmed by current events or workplace change.
- Determine a format. Think about the best way to communicate about the situation. If everyone on your team is affected, a team meeting may be the best format. If individual employees are struggling, then a casual check-in call or a private meeting may make sense. In some instances, an email message to your team, accompanied by a reminder that you are available if individual employees have questions, may be a way to start the conversation.
- Provide realistic reassurance. Start the meeting or email by letting your team know that you understand that uncertainty is stressful. Sample language: “These have been difficult times, and we are all feeling the impact.”
- Reiterate your team’s value. Remind employees that the work they do is important. When appropriate, look for ways to tie what they do to the larger goal of helping their community. Sample language: “The work you do every day matters not just to the organization, but to our customers and the city we live in as well. Thank you for your efforts.”
- Be available. Let employees know that you are available to discuss the situation in more detail. Sample language: “If you have questions or need more guidance, please speak with me. I’m here to help.”
- If individual employees approach you, listen to their concerns. Be open to suggestions for how to improve morale or make difficult circumstances more manageable. Keep in mind that your role is not to act as counselor, but to help employees stay on track at work. Sample language: “What would you do to improve the situation? I’d appreciate your ideas.”
- Follow up. Check in with your team in the days and weeks following your email or meeting. Continue to do periodic “temperature checks” and monitor your team’s mood. Talk to HR about any further steps you could take, such as training, that might help your team cope with challenges.