Too many times we’ve been asked to work with businesses to help them improve staff retention, employee engagement and/or the people culture of the organisation. The back story is always similar – "we used to have a great culture, people loved working here, we’ve done everything we can to make this a great place to work, increased salaries, been flexible with time off, given extra holidays, training etc but people just want more and more - they're so ungrateful, they don't realise how great they've got it here. Our latest employee survey rates us 2 out of 5 for ‘being a great place to work’. Last year we scored a 3 and thought that was bad enough. What should we do now?! We need help!"
Each time we come across this problem our answer is the same. Employment Engagement is not a destination, it’s a journey. If you see this as a ‘project’ something that can be fixed by introducing some new ideas or, as we saw in one company, who introduced a ‘Directors’ Lunch’ once a month and thought that would improve the ‘us and them’ culture, then you may as well throw your money away now.
Engagement starts with communication, authentic two-way communication. Discussion, opinions shared, risks considered and, eventually agreed and shared outcomes. Involving, respecting and trusting others is one of the cornerstones to effective engagement and in a world where hybrid working is becoming the norm with 50% of people attending the workplace/office whilst the other 50% work from home or their car then it has never been more important to really look at the channels of communication you and your colleagues use.
DEFINITION OF A MANAGER: “a person responsible for controlling or administering an organisation or group of staff".
The COVID pandemic has affected us all but in the workplace for managers, supervisors, team leaders the changes have been fundamental.
Instead of focusing on outputs, quality, service delivery etc - the hard stuff - their roles have been extended to include a significant portion of time spent coaching and mentoring. With many organisations having staff working from home - a trend likely to continue as the UK Government are about to launch a white paper to discuss extending flexible working and working from home - the art of coaching will become a key skill for managers.
We’ve certainly seen lots of evidence over the last 18 months of managers that have struggled to motivate their staff, keep the same levels of productivity and teamworking. When they’ve contacted us, they are normally at their wits end, and losing confidence rapidly, dreading the weekly meetings or talking to the person who is not meeting targets. They are typically stressed and taking one of two stances – 'it’s my fault I can’t connect with this person' or 'it’s all their fault'. Rarely has the middle ground been an option. So, how do we move forward? Is it now time to re-assess what skills our managers and supervisors need to be successful?