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Time to Rebuild

http://news.thepeoplebulletin.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Training.jpg With some good economic news to start the year, this is an ideal time to repair any damaged morale arising from the recession. Marielena Sabatier explains how improving trust, communication channels and – in particular – strong leadership are key recovery factors.

After 18 months of economic gloom, we have finally had some encouraging news, with official figures showing that the economy grew by 0.1% in the last three months of 20091. So, we may be officially out of recession, but for many businesses it really doesn't feel like it. Many are still reeling from the shock – 596,000 job losses, cut backs and pay freezes and not to mention damaged employee morale. 

The mood of the nation's workers seems to be summed up in recent research from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). When people were asked how they felt about returning to work after the Christmas break only 27% said they felt totally prepared for and positive about the year ahead; while 42% felt they worked harder in 2009 than 2008, but didn't think their boss appreciated the extra effort. 

In the aftermath of any storm, rebuilding is needed and now is the time for companies to regroup and build team morale, as we all know that low team morale reduces productivity and increases stress levels. And besides making people unhappy, stress costs the UK economy over £12bn a year. 
So how do companies reenergise their employees and get them focused and excited about the business year head? 

Communicate your vision 

To rebuild, companies must improve the way they communicate to employees and this means clear and consistent communication of the company vision and business goals. Sadly, this is something which many companies do poorly or fail to do at all. Another recent BIS survey revealed that just 24% of employees said that the management at their company had clearly communicated their business objectives for 2010. In addition, 32% had no idea if a clear vision for their business exists. 

It stands to reason that if your workforce doesn't know where it is going, it can't be expected to get there. Creating a compelling and believable vision of the future will motivate your workforce and attaining your goals will become far more likely. 

Strengthen your leadership 

In any crisis, strong leadership is required and the recession has really tested the mettle of leaders in companies across the UK, highlighting in some cases, skills gaps and poor leadership behaviour. In some cases, with recovery around the corner, it is a good time for leaders to look closely at their skills and identify areas of development and training needed. 
Coaching is increasingly being seen in companies around the world as a solution to improving the self awareness, confidence and communication skills of leaders. A 2009 study of more than 2,000 coaching clients in 64 countries highlighted the benefits coaching can deliver with 80% of respondents stating they have made positive changes in areas such as interpersonal skills, work performance and team effectiveness as a result3
But as well as coaching leaders, it is important to look at the impact of their leadership behaviour on employees. How do staff rate the leadership in the company? What do they see as their key strengths and weaknesses? A 360-degree assessment will not only pinpoint areas of learning and development for leaders, but at the same time provide valuable insight into the mood of the workforce. 

Rebuilding your team 

To improve how teams work together, it is essential to build trust and improve communication. How do team members relate to each other? Are they tolerant of each others' working style? One of the most common communication problems in any business is people misunderstanding the message, so communication is a key area to focus on. 

According to the Myers Briggs type Instrument (MBTI) there are 16 types of people all of whom receive and process information differently. Some people need to talk to process what they are thinking; while others need time to reflect. Some people come up with big creative ideas, whereas others are focused on practical issues. Some people make decisions based on logic and others make them based on their impact on others, and of course, there are organised people versus spontaneous ones. 

Team building training sessions not only can reveal how different we all are and how our brains are all wired differently, but the importance of not taking other peoples' behaviour personally. For example: people often get angry if someone is late and they have to wait for them. They think their time is not being valued and that the person is disrespectful or irresponsible. But, in reality, the person could be late because they are trying to do too much, and it doesn't have anything to do them. Improving trust and communication is all about understanding and being tolerant, and accepting of different personalities in the workplace. 

Key points for improving communication 


Marielena Sabatier

Marielena Sabatier is CEO of a UK people development and coaching consultancy, Inspiring Potential which provides a range of executive development services.

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