If you’ve cut staff, support the people you’ve kept.

Start with assurance. Tell them if everyone works together, business will improve. Tell them this is a problem with the economy, not with them. This might seem obvious, but many employers will tell remaining people that if things don’t improve, more cuts will come. Never, ever say that—-even if that is in the back of your mind. People tend to anticipate the worst scenario. If you say further cuts ‘may’ be necessary, they’ll hear, “more cuts soon”.

Demonstrate that you are in business to stay. One of the best morale builders is to do a thorough clean-up of your offices and facilities. Think as though you are facing a rigorous inspection. Clean up the place.  Get rid of junk. Get everyone involved in the effort. Nothing boosts spirits like a good house cleaning.

Next, protect your best talent. Smart people know when the ship is sinking and they’ll head for the life rafts. You won’t know when your best people are updating their resumes. You can protect them by providing training—good training. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You can buy a few books and give them as gifts with a note saying something like, “I’d like you to read this because you are a very important part of our organization and you may find something in this book of benefit.” (If you want suggestions, contact me. I know of several excellent books that would benefit anyone in business.)

You can, if the budget allows, pay for training classes.

Finally, tell your people how valuable they are to you. Tell them how much you appreciate their work. ASK for their input. Accept a little criticism too. When morale is low, talent often expresses suggestions as criticisms. Look for the positive. Remember that your employees are under stress too. Instead of saying to you, “we should update the website”, it might come out as “our website stinks”. Accept the suggestion and overlook the criticism.

You can’t do team building if morale is bad. Build morale, then start the team building.

Utilize the talent available to you and things will improve.

Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog
[email protected]