It’s therefore not surprising that some people are heading into work (whether in an office, their spare bedroom, the kitchen table, or a dresser at the end of the bed) feeling a little down, worried about their own situations and those of friends and family. When those worried people meet worried colleagues, a cycle of misery can ensue. Misery really does love company.
The temptation for managers at times like these is to tell people to pull their socks up, get on with their work, work harder, work for longer, after all, there’s a recession on, and people could lose their jobs. This approach is not a proven formula for success. The respected Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has recently completed research showing that employees who are in a negative frame of mind, and worrying about matters beyond their control, perform less well than those who have a positive approach to what they can achieve.
Leaders who can inspire their employees will succeed in a downturn as well as a boom. A stump speech about how wonderful everything is will not do the trick. At times like these people will look for authenticity and integrity, and that means having leaders who genuinely believe they will make a difference and that they can pull through a recession. Many people in today’s workforce will not have experienced a downturn as an employee, and it can be scary, older heads who have not only seen and survived recessions but come out stronger can send out a positive message.
Before you join in a water cooler conversation or a virtual coffee meet up about how things are in the economy and how that affects your business, give some thought about how contagious you are. If people look to you to set the tone, then you are a leader, make sure the tone you set is a constructive one.