Before a downsizing occurs, there is a period of fear and the unknown among employees. After the downsizing of a department, a hangover may linger around the office. As a manager, if you do not address the natural reaction of your marketing team with action beyond the consolation of simply retaining their jobs, morale will most certainly suffer. But if you take a few steps to stabilize your environment and reinvigorate the spirit of your team, high creativity and productivity will follow. This may seem a significant feat, but it is actually the little things that create a sense of stability and comfort for people in uncertain times. Try these approaches for effectively managing your team in troubled times.
One size does not fit all. A great way to tend to the individual needs of your staff is to offer a variety of work spaces that fit their personalities. Find out what works best for each individual on your team, and respond to their requests. One person might thrive in a lively cubicle setting with ambient activity of co-workers, while another works best in a quiet, enclosed office. If you have the space to accommodate options, use it according to the needs of your team, rather than just placing the entire team in cubicles so that they will be in close proximity to one another. Additionally, in the absence of windows, provide daylight simulating desk lamps to fend off dreariness or the occurrence of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Bring in back-up. Now that you have fewer people on your team, the work that was previously done by a larger group will now be distributed among the remaining members of your team. Thank your team for taking on the additional responsibilities of projects that were routinely handled by a former co-worker. Inevitably, however, a mammoth task for a current client will come at a time when you are already meeting multiple deadlines, and several new business opportunities will arise right behind it. During these times, if budget allow, supplement your full-time staff with consultants or independent contractors to meet the increased demand. Your team will appreciate your acknowledgement of their practical limitations, and you will avoid the burn out that would follow. And, if you have a core group of consultants and contractors with whom you regularly work, your projects, business proposals and other marketing materials will be produced as seamlessly as if they were prepared by an in-house team.
Perk-up. Studies reveal that people are highly responsive to the perks offered at their job. After a downsizing, however, some fringe benefits may have been cut, or may be in the coming months. As a manager, your hands are tied when it comes to company decisions regarding salary freezes and changes in bonus structure. However, you can compensate by providing your staff with small perks such as working remotely on occasion to offset child care costs, or offering flex time to provide the freedom to take care of personal responsibilities such as accompanying an elderly parent to the doctor, without making the employee use a vacation day. One on-the-job perk rising in popularity is bringing a yoga instructor into the office building on a weekly basis for a lunch-time yoga class which the staff pays for at a minimal fee. Not only is yoga a stress-relieving activity known to help reduce sick days, it is also believed to boost creativity.
Affirmation. Let your staff know that you appreciate them. Affirm the job well done on a large or difficult project or the seminar that ran smoothly and had a record turn out due to your staff's assertive marketing of the seminar. Sending an email, especially with a copy to marketing executives and key lawyers involved, is always an effective gesture. On top of that email, which takes 30 seconds to compose, walking to an employee’s desk and thanking them in person is a great way to let them know that you are aware of their invaluable contribution to your marketing team.
Keep in touch. When you call your team together to discuss current projects, and you are not struggling with multiple deadlines, ask them about events in their lives before moving on to the matters at hand. Remaining aware of the personal lives of your staff can further develop a sense of trust and openness that will carry over to business communication. When staff are working late late on a project, order dinner for the entire team and take a break to eat together while updating one another on your progress, instead of separately plugging away at your desks.
Managing effectively means maintaining a positive work environment where employees feel appreciated, their ideas are encouraged and their creativity fostered. These are just some of the ways you can boost morale within your team. Be creative and respond to the needs and personalities of the people who work for you.