Support employees during challenging times



By Dr. Bruno Roque Cignacco, SFHEA

United Kingdom



In relation to change affecting a company, most employees are comfortable with the status quo, and therefore they have a natural resistance to change. In the business environment, most of the time, changes are inevitable. These changes can affect different aspects of the organisation, for example, the way it is organised internally, its policies and procedures, the products they sell, the type of customers it serves, and the employees’ functions, among others.

When a company supports its employees on a continuous basis, they tend to feel more at ease when they perform their work tasks. Nonetheless, most employees tend to feel anxious when their company goes through challenging times. In some of these situations, employees tend to feel threatened, which prompts them respond to these factors in a defensive manner. Schein (2009) observed that employees’ fear can have different origins, for example, fear of losing their share of power, fear of being incompetent in the new scenario, etc. In these situations, employees are likely to become overwhelmed, which prevents them from tapping into their skills and talents.

Oftentimes these anxious employees become incapable of tackling challenging circumstances effectively. Goleman (1996) stated that anxious individuals’ cognitive functions become severely impaired, which affects their capacity to generate creative solutions to troublesome issues.

Sometimes, employees feel powerless and left to their own devices, as if they had to face these challenging situations on their own. Some tips for managers to take into account during challenging circumstances are:

◾ Some employees are very fearful of the negative effects of change affecting the company they work for. These employees must be thoroughly told the main aspects of change and the main reasons that justify it. In this way, employees’ uncertainty and apprehension regarding changing circumstances can be lowered.

◾ Angell and Rizkallah (2004) observed that during periods of change, managers should always avoid any communication vacuum, where employees do not know or understand what is going on in the organisation. Managers should provide subordinates with loving support and reassurance during turbulent times. Managers should show employees the potential implications of the changing circumstances, especially highlighting benefits that change will bring about for employees. Managers should be a sounding board for subordinates to navigate these changes confidently.



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Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from the book “The Art of Compassionate Business: Main Principles for the Human-Oriented Enterprise” (2019, Routledge). Link to the book: www.bit.ly/2MAkr4k 

How to cite this article: Cignacco, B. R. (2020).  Support employees during challenging times, PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue IV, April. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/pmwj92-Apr2020-Cignacco-support-employees-during-challenging-times.pdf



About the Author

Dr Bruno Roque Cignacco

United Kingdom





Dr Bruno Roque Cignacco (PhD) is an international business consultant, international speaker and business coach. For over 20 years, he has advised and trained hundreds of companies on international trade activities and international marketing. He is a university lecturer and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA – UK). He is also the author of business and personal development books published in different languages. His websites are www.humanorientedenterprise.com and www.brunocignacco.com