On addressing fears

During the life of an organization, some events create uncertainty for the employees. A new benefits program, an acquisition, a divestiture, a new leader, a prosecution – all can create anxiety.

When announcing these events, most companies choose to focus exclusively on the benefits of the changes. In doing so, they completely ignore their employees’ anxieties for fear of creating panic. Honestly, would it be so damaging to sneak one of these sentences in the memo?

  • We realize that moving to this new health insurer will force some employees to find a new doctor. Given the very personal nature of a doctor/patient relationship, this change will be difficult for some of you. This is why we set up a special helpline to assist you in finding a new doctor.
  • All good acquisitions generate synergies, which means that some redundant positions will have to be eliminated. Whenever possible, affected employees will be assigned to a new position. In some cases, a relocation might be necessary. A special team of HR professionals has been set up to answer any question you might have.
  • Despite her extraordinary experience as a leader, our new president is also new to our industry. She will need to learn about our business, about our competitors and our suppliers, and we count on all of you to help her do this quickly. As she learns, she may also propose changes to some of our long-standing practices. While this may feel unsettling, it can also represent opportunities for quantum leaps.

Ignoring the fears does not make them go away. In fact, it amplifies them. Give your employees some psychological air by validating and addressing their anxieties.

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