We can't escape bad news—story after story about layoffs, closures and falling profits. It's only natural that employees are worried about the safety of their jobs. "Am I next?" they undoubtedly wonder, and they deserve an accurate picture of your company's health. In a post at Harvard Business Online, John Baldoni offers some tips for straight talk:

  • "Do not assume that everyone knows how the recession is affecting your business," he says. Even if you're thriving, employees won't know it for a fact unless you tell them.
  • Use charts and graphs to compare your performance today with your performance a year ago, and project future returns in best- and worst-case scenarios. Invite them to contribute ideas for achieving an improved outcome.
  • Be realistic—no rousing victory-at-any-cost speeches à la Winston Churchill. Furthermore, avoid giving them false hope. "Be clear with your folks that well-intentioned, hard-working employees cannot guarantee upturns if customers are not buying."
  • Look for humor where you can find it. "Laughter is not the avoidance of seriousness; it is recognition that humans need diversion," he says.

At the end of the day, remember that your tone matters as much as your words. Baldoni cites a favorite quote: "People forget what you say, but they remember how you made them feel."

The Po!nt: Speak softly—and talk straight. Employees will appreciate knowing where they stand, and whether the ground is still shifting. Find the right tone, and tell them.

Source: Harvard Business Online. Read the full post here.

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