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What do employees expect in touch economic times?

First and foremost, employees need to know what the goals of the organization are, and what the company expects of them to achieve those goals.  Establishing clear expectations for performance and results will allow your employees to perform their tasks more efficiently, allowing your employees to "get it right the first time".

In a down economy, this is especially important since employees want to know where they stand and how tough economic conditions will impact their job security, role and performance.

Expectations can generally be categorized into "group" expectations, relating to the performance of a business unit as a whole, and "personal" expectations, relating to the performance of a specific person.

Make These Goals Public

Creating measurable goals for your organization and keeping the progress towards those goals visible can help create a feeling of camaraderie among your employees. Matt Prue, a plant manager for a national roofing company notes that many of his employees weren't aware of their specific expectations and goals for the plant as a whole.  Matt initiated a monthly meeting schedule where annual goals are reviewed and progress is updated.  All employees receive the same information. Plus, they have an opportunity to provide suggestions if improvements are required.  Matt adds that this simple step has significantly increased the trust between the plant staff and management.

For personal expectations, the annual review is still the standard for employee expectations.  Clem Benevente, a regional plant manager for a national roofing manufacturer uses his annual reviews to show how his employees fall within the organization in terms of performance.  Individual performance is related to profit sharing in his company, further incentivizing performance.

Consistency is Key

In a recent survey we conducted, when asked if they had changed their leadership style over the last 30 days due to the economic crisis, 62% of respondents said they had not.

A manager in a global consumer product company maintains that consistency breeds trust in her division.  If she senses stress in her organization, she talks to her leadership peers about how to communicate and maintain calmness and confidence.  This also provides a consistent voice throughout the organization, and consistency breeds trust.  She and her peers are making an effort to pay more attention to the general mood of their employees, and remain as accessible as possible.

Communicating clear expectations, following up on these expectations, and delivering a consistent, honest message to your employees will allow them to understand the current state of the company and how they contribute to the success of the company.

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