The crisis has been dragging on for five years now, six years in some sectors. The situation is slowly starting to improve, but we’re not there yet. Lots of companies are getting to the ends of their reserves, mental fortitude is wearing thin, and belief in better times ahead is made more difficult by governments doing too little to improve the business climate. So we will have to weather the storm ourselves.
But times of crisis make us uncertain, and uncertainty makes people more cost-conscious, which in turn leads to more control and so also more overheads. Management boards have to realize that control affects employees’ levels of involvement and commitment, and so also their motivation. Control results in people having to spend more hours achieving the same result. Add to this the added pressure that times of crisis put on prices, and it becomes clear to see why even more work is required to generate the same turnover as before.
Basically, employees are put under too much pressure. They work more hours for the same pay, perhaps become less motivated, and might even fear losing their job. The result: all this uncertainty means people get stuck in a relentless cycle that doesn’t give them anything other than too much stress.
Better results from working less
Let’s think in a cost-conscious way. Get rid of all the excessive control in unnecessary layers of management; it’s better to create an environment in which employees’ levels of involvement and commitment can grow. This will lead to improved performance and a better working atmosphere. Stimulating employees’ involvement helps companies achieve better results at lower costs with fewer working hours and less stress. Give employees the space to balance their skills and responsibilities. Stability is a key factor here: avoid lurching from unnecessary costs in good times to big savings in times of crisis.
Five fruitful crisis measures:
- Clearly communicate challenges and corresponding solutions;
- Create an environment in which everyone shares everything, including mistakes, so people can find solutions together;
- Ask groups of employees to develop proposals for cost optimizations that do not threaten the business impact;
- Stimulate ideas that help increase your services’ impact on clients;
- Don’t lose yourself in excessive bureaucracy or complex procedures.
Despite all the available books and training courses on empowerment, motivation, stress and delegation, too many organizations are compelling their managers to exert extensive control. This is well-intentioned, but it just serves to aggravate the effects of the crisis by putting more pressure on managers to control employees at all levels. It results in more work in the form of extra reports, and management teams spend more time attending meetings. They think they are gaining control by following employees’ emails in cc when in fact this traffic is actually just taking up more of their time. So stop the crisis for yourself by limiting the levels of control to a minimum, and focus on developing your strengths.