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4 Things Business Owners Should Never Do In Uncertain Times

At one point or another, every business faces situations that create some level of uncertainty. Whether the factors are external and macro, such as the implications of potential US trade policy changes, or more internal to the company, the level of unpredictability created can vary from a little – to a lot. Good leaders will strategize, revisit their business plans and revise projections, but great leaders go a step further. They know that, especially during these times, maintaining and even stepping up communication with employees is key.

If you’re feeling anxious as the business owner think about the trickle-down effect for your employees. Depending on the situation, they may be glued to the news wondering what the future may bring, or they will look to colleagues to extract any information that can shed light on their questions and ease their concerns. When there is an absence of communication, this is the time when rumours ­– and misinformation – runs rampant. And that’s when employee productivity and morale take a nosedive, ultimately with negative effects on the company’s bottom line.

During times of uncertainty, there are four key things a business owner should absolutely avoid when it comes to dealing with employees.

Don’t Lie.  A little white lie might seem like a quick fix, but when the truth comes out employees and colleagues won’t trust you the next time. Business owners may lie in such circumstances because they ‘don’t want to scare people’ or because they can’t reassure their staff they have a plan for dealing with the uncertainty.  The result is more rumours, more concerns and diminishing confidence that the business owner knows what he is doing.

Don’t dismiss their concerns. It might seem like a small problem compared to the big ones that you’re working on but remember, this job is their livelihood; it’s the way they pay their mortgage and support their family. If they are worried about job security, their productivity will suffer as a result.

Don’t blame someone else. It’s easy to scapegoat a customer or an external force, but this only works against you and confirms to employees that you either aren’t in control of the situation, or don’t know what to do. But if an employee has concerns about how things are running, address them head on.

Don’t let your best people get away. While it might seem crazy to explore a pay or benefits increase for employees during a time of uncertainty, retaining your top performers might be your best strategy for staying afloat. While money goes a long way, you can also explore other aspects of compensation including a revamped bonus plan, profit sharing, etc. Taking them into your confidence and telling them how they figure into the company’s future is also a good idea.

Ultimately, without good employees, few if any companies would succeed. While they needn’t be apprised of every detail, ensuring clear, honest and consistent communication as a best practice with employees goes a long way to weathering any uncertainty.

Janet Candido