Reduce the inevitable stress of a corporate merger by avoiding unbelievable claims about ‘Business as Usual’.
I knew one young HR Manager who effectively invented ‘Uncertainty Management’ as a new branch of stress management.
They had risked appointing Philippa as HR Manager of one of the UK’s biggest tour operators, although she was only twenty-four. But then, within weeks, the worrying rumours started; apparently they were due to merge with an even bigger organisation.
This was going to be a real test of HR, especially Change Management. The inevitable redundancies. The shuffling of whole departments, with new faces, new job-functions and titles. And of course, the huge customer-base, wanting confirmation that their holiday-bookings were still valid.
When the first few people came knocking on her door, her instinct was to talk reassuringly in terms of ‘Business as Usual’. But she soon realized that this was the lazy way out, basically a bluff that would soon destroy the vital credibility that she had yet to build up at her young age.
In her previous job, she had attended one of my newer presentations ‘Change is your Opportunity for Growth’ whose sub-text was ‘Build a believable vision of a corporate future’. At this crucial moment, she remembered some of the key messages about credibility.
So instead, she shifted the emphasis to ‘delivery as usual’, on the basis of manageable short-term projects. This was accepted as much more realistic, and the atmosphere of disorientation and distrust quickly began to ease.
A high degree of candour and confidence was encouraged, with no empty promises about job security, but investments still made in recruitment, coaching and staff development in general, so that people were kept busy and excited about their role in the business. Standards of executive dialogue improved dramatically. In particular, the HR department itself became recognised as an industry leader and role-model when the merger finally went through.
Without realizing it, Philippa had effectively invented a new HR capability ‘Uncertainty Management’.
Have you heard of someone having to convince the sceptical about corporate trustworthiness? Tell us what happened – or just what you think and feel about common workplace situations like this.
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