Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The warranty must have expired on my crystal ball, because it's not working

With the news today of the death/suicide of Freddie Mac's interim CFO David Kellermann, and the anticipated ripple this is expected to have, brace yourselves for more uneasiness in the workforce. The fragile economic conditions right now are primed for quick reaction to any semblance of trouble. Speculation is sure to abound on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the abundance of other communication connections that the suicide was surely linked to some dark, lurking secret at the already-scarred financial giant. Rumblings in the news lead to wrinkled and furrowed brows in the workplace.

We would all like to think that the reductions-in-force and reduced schedules are behind us; that the company has been trimmed as lean as it can be; and that we've surely found the bottom. I certainly hope so. Consider taking a moment to take the temperature of your employees. If you have a chance to assuage some of the fears of your workers, take it.

By no means do we suggest you make promises of job security, salary continuation and the like. Those who are "in the know" at work can often forget that you are among the minority. You and your management team have been living and breathing budgets, watching expenditures like a hawk, and exercising more fiscal responsibility than you ever thought you would have to. If these items have consumed you, it is natural for you to assume that they have consumed everyone else. In fact, your employees may only see the duck swimming on the surface and not notice the feet furiously paddling underneath. So throw them a mask, invite them into your world, at least for a glimpse, and hear them out. They may be dwelling on matters that you can eliminate as a concern.

None of us have the crystal ball necessary to predict when we'll return to some sense of normalcy. It may be that we are as normal as we are ever going to be. Regardless, those in leadership should take this opportunity to embrace your workforces and open the communication lines. We'll all be better for it.

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