Situation: The CEO has regular lunches with staff to foster communication and sharing of information. In recent months few employees are attending these lunches. Also, a negative tone is beginning to pervade the office, though the situation seems to improve when the CEO is present. How would you address this situation?
Advice from the CEOs:
- The immediate priority is to correctly diagnose the problem. Is this a question of the CEO’s energy or the team’s awareness of plans for the company? Is there something else going on of which the CEO is unaware?
- Meet with employees. Have an open and frank discussion with them about the future of the company.
- Meet with the most valuable employees first. Share hopes and vision for the business. Express appreciation for their contributions and discuss plans for their continued growth. Next, ask open-ended questions about the company and seek their input on how to improve it. Listen to what they have to say.
- Next are borderline employees. Again, share the vision and appreciate their past and current contributions, but be honest about expectations for performance. Then ask the same open-ended questions that you asked the first group and listen.
- For underperforming employees, again appreciate past and current contributions, but be clear that unless they substantially improve performance, future employment isn’t guaranteed. Ask the same open-ended questions asked of the other groups and listen.
- Be patient. Don’t try to develop all the answers immediately. Listen and learn what drives employees – particularly keepers. Involve them in developing programs to drive the future.
Key Words: Communications, Morale, Employees, Diagnosis, Plan, Listen