Last week sands shifted for our country, people, and companies. For many years what we assumed was solid ground, changed. Various organizations quickly responded to the shifting sands and communicated their values, practices and beliefs to employees and customers. Some employees and/or customers may agree with the communicated practices, and others may disagree. At least, they know where they stand.
Now is the time for employers to be crystal clear about who they are, what they believe, and what they will support. This action is important! It allows your employees and customers to decide if they are willing to stand with you going forward, and to make a choice that is right for them. Employee engagement, teamwork, productivity, and sales increase when values are aligned and embraced.
Today I coached a leader regarding an employee’s request for a personal leave. The policy had been in force for years and was based on tenure with the organization. Medical needs or extended vacations were the typical reasons for the personal leave requests. For one employee, the shifting sands triggered a sense of urgency to act. The leader did not condone the reason for the request.
He questioned, “Can I deny the request even though it meets the requirements we have outlined?”
I replied, “What do you think?”
He shook his head no, and said, “That would be unfair and send a bad message to the team.”
I responded, “Yes. If I were a member of your team, I would question the integrity of the policies, company, and wonder what else is at play?
He then asked, “Should the policy change?”
I answered, “You can do that in the future, but you must be consistent with all eligible employees. If you know that employee requests may not be aligned with your values, consider eliminating the personal leave policy as it is not required by law.”
He took a deep breath and replied, “Thank you, this is difficult, and I want to ensure I do the right thing.”
I declared, “You did!”
Managers must be trained to deliver appropriate responses to employees regarding the changing times we are experiencing. Emotions are running high, and personal bias gets in the way of judgement and sound decision making. Talk to your employees and communicate practices that you can “stand on today.” During this time of shifting sands, it is the company’s responsibility to provide the “grain of truth” that employees can hold in their hand
Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand, but we must build as if the sand were stone. Jorge Luis Borges