Flat people = flat teams = flat cultures = flat results.
It’s true and it’s what I’m hearing online and from my clients. We were unprepared for the sudden isolation and many workplaces have struggled to make changes ‘on the fly’ to keep their people engaged and involved. According to McKinsey we’ve done well with meeting the basic needs of security and safety but now it’s time to do more.
They point to three specific areas of employee experience which companies now need to address to help re-engage their people. Those are trusting relationships, social cohesion, and individual purpose.
In some of my recent posts I’ve explained the importance of clear and regular communication, personal connection, and clarity of goals/expectations. Those are still paramount to keeping your talent engaged.
Now is the time to address the next level of need. We’ve become used to the COVID world, even if we don’t like it. Some of the panic has settled and people can start looking at life and work with clear eyes. They’re ready for change and looking for a way to move forward. You could say they’re ripe for re-engagement.
Trust is the glue which has held teams together during this time. The leaders who have built strong relationships with their team members have produced the best results. However, it has been a struggle for many.
People are beginning to wonder if it’s safe to go back to work, and if their job will look vastly different. They’ve been working through a time where they’ve either been trusted to get their work done or they’ve been micro-managed and begun to feel untrusted.
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania recommends training managers to become better leaders in dealing with employees so they stop confusing “trust” with control or compliance.
“The activity of building trust is […] an important leadership responsibility and one that should be exercised continuously. If accepting vulnerability and thus giving trust to others is observed as the default behavior, then it will become the norm to follow and foster all the positive effects of trust.
Teams have been splintered and people separated from each other. Companies have done their best to keep teams connected but with no time to prepare, they’ve encountered human and technological challenges. If we look beyond the team, we see relationships with customers in disarray, too.
When we’re threatened, we withdraw to our place of safety; to the people we know and trust. While we feel more secure, our thoughts and beliefs and misjudgements are reinforced by those around us who think as we do. It’s time to design opportunities for reconnection so people expand their range of contacts and open again to ideas, differences, and new connections.
Dave Ulrich, co-author of The Why of Work, is quoted as saying, “Good leaders are meaning makers who help each employee find his or her personal meaning through their work activities.”
Look for ways to help people to find meaning. Share customer feedback. Show the difference the person has made to the company, the team and to you as leader. Explain the results the team has delivered. Work jointly on building a team or personal vision and how to make it happen.
One of the best ways to re-engage your people is through mentoring or coaching. Offering such an opportunity your team members that you value them. It creates an opportunity for improved communication, increased trust, and open encouragement. Coaching programs can help re-engage people by opening their minds to a new future and guiding them along the way, and it works for people at any stage of their career.
How have you re-engaged your talent during tough times? We’d love to learn from your experience