When the economy is down, nurturing employees goes to the back burner in many companies. As a result employee morale and engagement begin to slide. When the pendulum swings and the economy strengthens, as it always will eventually, responsive leadership shift energies towards driving competitive edge innovations and operational volume initiatives, thus dimming the spotlight on mentoring. In either economic scenario, employees wanting stretch opportunities and promotions are often brushed off in favour of more pressing business priorities, further toppling employee satisfaction and engagement levels. However, there are simple behaviours that can be applied in all economic climates and will actually strengthen a positive corporate culture. Keep these leadership hacks front of mind during and see the positive impact for yourself.
Say “yes” to your employees: There are managers that have an automatic reluctance to take on employee suggestions during times of high workload and think that every yes to an employee would mean a no to the company or cause further burden an already laboured workload. They think that saying yes to an employee wanting to explore new business development opportunities would mean they will lose focused on their day job. However this simply isn’t true. Effective leaders realise that saying yes to an employee who wants to do more creates a culture of growth and accountability, increasing value all round.
Understand what drives your employees: Sure, some employees have unrealistic ambitions, but a leader’s job is to help them succeed, even if this means steering them toward a more realistic career path. An employee’s expressed ambition provides valuable insight into their internal drivers. So take the time to listen and provide counsel so that employees feel heard. The investment of your time is the surest way for your employees to feel valued.
Give them chances to think strategically: Engage employees in strategic planning processes by having them craft a plan showing how their ideas will benefit all stakeholders. Providing opportunities to think strategically allows employees the scope to actualise inter-departmental collaboration initiatives and further underlines your confidence in them. Whether leading a lean start-up or a industry-dominant global enterprise, inviting employees to think strategically gets the creative sparks flying.
As well as championing the professional development and career aspirations of your employees, reminding yourself of these tried and true tips will go a long way to letting your employees know that they matter.
Say thank you. Whether your employees are submitting a weekly report or have just returned from a customer delivery, don’t forget to say thank you. This basic courtesy regularly tops most effective employee recognition lists.
Encourage risk taking. Micromanaging your employee after having granted permission to trial a new process improvement strategy or hovering as they test a new software application is not only annoying, but also will quickly erode trust.
Be flexible. Office hours may be 8:30 to 6, but allowing employees to manage their schedules to optimal working patterns will get better results. An extra hour in the mornings may enable top performers to spend time with their family, or to work out at the gym, thus powering them up for the day. Allowing tailored scheduling enhances a culture of accountability and empowers unbridled work performance, which ultimately can only help employee engagement levels and the bottom line.
Remember their birthday. Even though it’s likely employee’s friends and family will coordinate festivities, genuine “Happy Birthday” wishes means a lot to many people. It shows they matter – and cost nothing but can be worth volumes.
Don’t badmouth other employees…ever. If you slag off one co-worker to another, employees will soon suspect their reputation are also up to be kicked around. Maintain a positive vocabulary when speaking about members of the employee community and growing a positive organisational culture is that much easier.
Follow through. When you ask someone to invest time in a project or task, only to ignore the results – or worse – scrap the requirements altogether without letting them know, then expect morale to take a massive blow. Commit to closing the loop on your goals, and particularly those in which you have involved others.
Give the gift of time. Whether you’ve asked employees to work extra hours on a special project – or they simply stayed on to get the job done – working extra hours, especially over weekends and into the late evenings is no small deed. Offering time-in-lieu is always appreciated recognition for those folk who go above and beyond what’s asked or expected.
Be open. While disclosing P&L statements in their entirety may be counter-productive to effective communication, involving your team in key initiatives strengthens trust and drives a culture of transparency within the organisation.
Champion employee growth. In addition to listening and responding to your employee’s goals, be proactive on their behalf. In other words, invite them into stretch projects, promotion opportunities and networking events before being asked to do so.
When employees get stuck in a rut and turn-off to active learning, or feel they are under-valued, their engagement inevitably wanes. Typically, this leads to productivity and retention declines, which in turn impacts a company’s bottom line. Showing genuine care through small daily actions in addition to championing professional development will foster an accountability-driven environment and positively impact your organisational culture and Employer Brand.
If you could do with another set of hands to energise your employee recognition initiatives, WINC consultants really shine in employment arenas. We pride ourselves on being our clients’ most valuable partner in the attraction, retention and engagement of their current and future employees. We offer quality end-to-end strategies and solutions including creative, digital, research, planning and communications within the employment branding space.