More with Less
If you’re in a situation where you are being asked to deliver more work with fewer resources, I have four words for you – you are not alone!
For some people, knowing that they are not alone might provide comfort. These leaders will get on with the job, support their teams the best way they know how and look for opportunities to improve morale and celebrate successes as they come along.
For others, it will not provide comfort at all and they’ll continue to discuss (at any opportunity) how unfair/unsustainable/outrageous these situations are. These leaders belong in the 80’s… because they clearly lack the skills and emotional intelligence that is required to lead teams in today’s ever changing and challenging environment.
Employee engagement gets talked about a lot these days and quite rightly so! We are working in a time where the 40 hour work week is talked about as something that existed in ‘the olden days’. Our employees are often contactable and available 24/7, and the right to be who you are wherever you go is (finally) starting to prevail over having to live up to a predetermined corporate image.
Employee engagement is about creating a work environment where all employees can contribute their best through being themselves to achieve both organisational and personal goals. Think this sounds simple? Then why do so many leaders find this so hard?
The approach required to lead an engaged workforce is a far cry from the good old times of ‘Command and Control’ where the boss (traditionally pale, stale and male) would bark orders from the corner office and everyone else would diligently run around fulfilling his requirements. Men were dressed in suits and women wore an appropriate variation of blouse & skirt or neck to knee dress. Oh how perfect! Except the people weren’t happy. The only saving grace was that people weren’t at work for that long.
Nowadays people work longer and harder, so they have developed the desire to want to enjoy what they do while they are at work. They want to like the people that they spend time with at work, and they want to be respected for who they are while they are there. Multiply those three needs by the number of people you have in your business and this is the number of needs you are aiming to meet to achieve an engaged workforce. But thankfully, it’s really not that hard.
And by personalisation, I don’t mean you should monogram all your staff! But the same logic does apply. Make it personal to them. The best thing leaders can do as they start to engage their teams, is just get to know them as people. Of course this assumes that all teams are made up of people technically competent enough to do their jobs, so we’ll leave performance issues for another article.
Getting to know employees is the first step to understanding what they like, what they dislike and what they need to work excellently in your team. Are they morning or afternoon people? Introverts or extraverts? High needs or low needs? – knowing all of this helps leaders take a personalised approach to leading a team, regardless of size. You can work on a one size fits most approach for somethings and then have a more unique approach to others and before you know it, the majority of your teams needs are met.
Work Life Blend
Most people have given up talking about striving for a ‘Work Life Balance’ and they now just accept there is simply life. Taking a whole of life or a blended approach to managing teams and getting to know people is also an effective way to build employee engagement.
Instead of pretending employees should leave their private life at the door on the way in, they should be encouraged to share what’s happening at home, or at the very least know they can if they chose to. Pretending to be someone you are not requires a lot of energy! Energy that could be otherwise channelled into their work. Stuff happens…constantly! Why pretend it doesn’t? Having your employees know that it’s safe to talk about personal problems or celebrate personal successes at work is critical to having them in the right headspace to be as effective as possible in their roles. Additionally, helping your team set some personal goals at the same time as you are setting up their annual business goals is a great way to show that you care as much about them as you do about the work that they do.
Clear Visions vs Deadlines
I’m a MASSIVE planner. I’m all for setting deadlines so teams are clear on what is required and when. However, I’ve discovered a far more effective way to get greater engagement and a better overall result is to share the clear vision or big picture of what I’m trying to achieve and why I’m trying to achieve it. You still need to include timeframes and requirements in your message, but in my experience sharing information (the WHY) will get you better results than requesting the WHAT every time. Sometimes, you’ll even get things delivered sooner too. Simply providing a deadline makes people focus on a date and a process, but sharing the story gets them focusing on so much more.
Leaders spend a lot of time under pressure, and all too often that pressure results in them underestimating what their teams are capable of. Focusing on creating an engaged workforce that supports both employee and employer goals is the key to unlocking everyone’s full potential and creating opportunities of personal and commercial success.