"Sometimes you have to implement unpopular decisions that you didn't make, that you don't like, that you don't understand and that you don't agree with. It's part of the job. The way you handle this situation says a lot about you as a leader. If you do it right, your people are going to trust you and respect you more. If you do it wrong, they're going to lose trust and lose respect for you.
Here's what you don't do:
- Don't show frustration. It's an easy way to empathize, but it puts you on the same level as your employees, and you don't want to give away your leadership clout.
- Don't complain. It's a tempting way to vent but it positions you as a victim and nobody wants to listen to a victim.
- Don't assign blame. It's an easy way to take the heat off yourself, but it makes your job harder because it gives people a reason to resist you down the road.
Here's what you do:
- Let your people vent. When teams are bitching together, they're bonding together. But don't join in. Just listen and acknowledge their concerns.
- Always support the decision maker. You can be honest. You can disagree with the decision and still support the decision maker in the decision-making process.
- Encourage your people to assume positive intent.
- Focus on what you know and don't fret about the things you don't. Avoid making assumptions because they're often wrong and lead to needless worry.
- Keep the lines of communication open and fill in the blanks when you can and stay positive. Your people are going to take their emotional cues from you."
You can acknowledge that the decision is unpopular, that the information is incomplete and that the change is going to be hard. But if people see you rise into the occasion, they will too.