March Madness

No…not The NCAA March Madness.  I’m talking about the March Madness this year that has to do with workplace panic and confusion that’s been building, and building…and building for months during the global economic crisis.  The uncertainty on Wall Street with the down, no up, now down, a little up, and up again stock market.  The climbing daily tally of the newly unemployed — or worse the running total. The retailers who this month have moved beyond their going out of business sales to the very final status of “gone out of business.”  The increase in social networking activity as more and more newly unemployed connect and reconnect.   March has been a wild ride for managers looking to keep their teams focused on the task at hand despite the rising sense of panic and the psychological toll brought on by all this uncertainty.   Employees are looking to their managers for a sense of calm and confidence.   The really great managers will make sure that this month isn’t consumed by stress and paralyzing hand-wringing.  Smart managers are doing three things: 1) Walking the halls, listening to what’s said and what’s left unsaid…even when they’d prefer to just hunker down in their office;  2) Inspiring their teams by re-focusing on the common goals,  the context and meaning of the work; and 3) Recognizing the hard work especially in the face of tough challenges, leaner teams, smaller budgets and tighter deadlines.   The best managers will make sure that March Madness really is about basketball!

2 Responses to “March Madness”

  1. Jesse Feinkind says:

    While I think every B-School talks about the need for open and honest communication, this is often the first thing to be disgarded when things seems to be spiraling out of control. However, it is often the simplist thing that can be done to calm your work force. Rumors can zap moral and productivity. People are often more mature and able to deal with uncertainty more then we think they can. People need to know where they stand – they need some form of security and assurance. more transparency can give this to them.

  2. Beryl Loeb says:

    You are absolutely right. Managers know communicating with their teams is an essential part of their job, and most know that they need to communicate even more during periods of high anxiety and change. This requires that managers overcome their fear of — and extreme discomfort in — having difficult conversations. There is no doubt that companies that commit to candor and transparency benefit from high levels of trust and commitment.

Leave a Reply