Employee engagement and talent retention at all levels is paramount, as the impact of the Great Resignation of 2021 continues to be a real business concern for leaders and organizations heading into the new year.
Leading with purpose now matters more than ever. In a recent McKinsey survey, nearly two-thirds of US-based employees said COVID-19 caused them to reflect on their purpose in life, and nearly half said they were reconsidering the type of work they were doing because of the pandemic1.
Progressive organizations recognize that people at all levels today want to work for organizations where they can live by their values and where authentic leaders align with, champion, and support those values.
ECC Affiliate Executive and Brain Coach Dana M. Smith sees the challenge more than ever for today’s leaders. Associating with the objective is a tricky road for lots of leaders since it can be very customized and therefore complicated to decide on an individual level. It requires asking powerful questions, getting to know your people, and considering them as multi-faceted. It also requires dedication, intentionality, and time – a precious commodity in today’s frenetic and fast-paced work environment.
Dana offers 4 suggestions leaders can start implementing today:
AUTHENTICITY – Stay your own trustworthy leader.
Leaders should be faithful to themselves before they can authentically lead with purpose.
- Introspection – think about what you value and how that may have changed during the pandemic. How does this influence your leadership style and how you choose to “show up”?
- Alignment – assess how your organization’s purpose and values align with yours. Consider where they meet, where they don’t meet, and how best to reconcile.
- Empathy – discover methods to be more defenseless, empathetic, and transparent. Know people as they need to be known.
- Live it – Words do matter, but acts matter more. Take yourself in a way that fits who you are and what you have stated.
CONNECT – Build relationships more holistically.
The impacts of the pandemic on a personal level vary widely. For some, the impacts may be minimal. Yet for others, whether planned or not, the impacts can be wide-ranging and profound, including loss, illness, grief, stress, anxiety, burnout, and lingering uncertainty.
- Get to know and connect with people beyond the company.
- Take the time to ask your team/organization how they are doing, what their general sense of well-being is, and where they might need support.
- Recognize and recognize the level of work-related stress and burnout.
- Ask and listen. Pay attention to both what is said and what is not said. Meet people “where they are”.
GOAL – Create a goal-oriented environment conducive to people giving their best.
Although company-wide change takes time, leaders can positively impact the work environment within their teams, departments, and divisions.
- Organize listening sessions to find out what values are important to people and if/how they have changed.
- Assess goal/value alignment. How do the values that drive people align (or not) with yours and those of your organization? How well do people conform to the corporate culture versus being true to themselves within the context of what the organization values?
- While honoring individuality is important, determine if there are gaps in alignment that are of concern. How might you seek to understand (not judge) these shortcomings? Where should they be closed? Where is it acceptable for them to just “be there”? What are the impacts on the business?
COMMUNICATION – Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Leaders can improve connection and engagement by establishing and maintaining open lines of communication on key topics, including:
- Business purpose and values - and the leader’s own connection to the business purpose.
- Connecting individual purpose to company purpose to better match people to assignments, make work more fulfilling, and drive the business forward.
As Theodore Roosevelt so properly said, “Nothing is worth having.”
Dana’s advice: Permit time for reflection and conversations about values/goals. Twist them into the cloth of your management with the help of executive coaching services. Amid the ongoing talent drain and labor shortages, it’s increasingly important to unlock the answers your employees already have – to really see and hear them. They will help you if you invite them to do so. Ultimately, you and your organization will reap the benefits of a more engaged, motivated, and retained workforce.