3 Key Principles of Employee Management

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In my career as an HR professional, business integrator, and leader, I have helped companies work to reverse the consequences of the myriad poor decisions regarding employees. In my experience, most of these errors were the result of poor planning, underestimating staff responsiveness(s), lack of understanding of their needs, and poor communication with expectations. In most cases, the CEO’s focus has been too much on guiding the business toward the horizon and preparing for future challenges or the next life cycle, and not enough on the employee’s current environment. When leaders are in constant touch with the future, they disconnect from the present—they risk making mistakes by underestimating the impact of growth on their biggest asset: the workforce.

Of course, leadership is a big enough challenge as it is: You own every problem in the company even if you’re not the one directly tackling it. You are also constantly under the microscope, being judged and evaluated by people who do not have access to the operational knowledge that you possess, and you must make decisions confident that you have all the information to mitigate as much risk as possible and meet the requirements of investors and stakeholders. It can be a heavy load.

Related: CEO resigns 900 employees in horrific video call

When a leader makes a decision that affects employees negatively, they often realize that they have rang an indecipherable bell. An example is the recent layoff of more than 900 employees from Better. In December of 2021, the CEO of a New York City mortgage company, Vishal Garg, made the decision to communicate this termination decision during a scheduled online meeting with everyone involved — and the repercussions were massive. In addition to surprisingly dealing with nearly a thousand highly charged, upset, and angry employees, the company has found itself in the headlines of the unforgiving media. The effects were so fierce that she had to shut down the brand’s website for a short period of time to control the situation.

1. You can’t drive and communicate with technology alone

Humans do not respond well to impersonal action when their safety and basic needs are threatened. The famous “hierarchy of needs” of the psychologist Abraham Maslow states that when a person has the ability to provide the basic requirements (food, shelter, clothing) as well as safety (in this case job security) that support the acquisition of those needs, then the employee does not have the bandwidth to communicate Not only with others, but can also build on higher needs for self-actualization, such as realizing one’s full potential. When someone is suddenly terminated, their world comes back to the realization that basic needs are threatened, that safety is removed, and when employers and other leaders do not sympathize with this sudden shift, as we have seen with Better, the reaction is intense, and the situation is difficult increasingly managed.

Related: The 7 worst mistakes companies make when laying off employees

2. When you fail to plan, things get ugly

In a world with an increasing number of reporters, everything leaders do is at risk of public exposure, and the fast-paced nature of social media means bad news and bad behavior spread faster than ever. Such accounts are also largely permanent. In the Better case, a female employee recorded the termination meeting with her reaction included and posted it online for all to see. So, think carefully about the timing and means of conveying any difficult news to the employees.

3. Don’t mistake comfort for quality

Technology has always been intended as a mechanism to increase efficiency and make life easier, but it has also made it more difficult. Excessive reliance on technology in leadership risks learning painful lessons: a good leader knows when to put them aside when dealing with sensitive people issues.

Related: Here are the best research-backed solutions to deliver the bad news

Ultimately, if you are thinking about moves that have a significant impact on the workforce, then consider all aspects of the human element before continuing. These people work hard to help you achieve your goals, and difficult times require not only your leadership, but your compassion as well.

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