Business disruption, market uncertainty, and a hybrid workforce require a new type of leader. A manager who is both a keeper of the company’s culture and an engager of its employees.
However, as your to-do list exponentially grows, the pandemic blues merge with the winter blues, and your dry eyes beg for a respite from yet another Zoom meeting, the thought that your team members’ engagement is solely your responsibility can be overwhelming.
I get it.
So, here is the good news.
Your employee’s engagement, fulfillment, and happiness at work are shared responsibilities between you and your team member. Why? Because it takes two to create a vibrant, mutually beneficial, meaningful professional relationship. And this is not possible if your direct reports are unclear on what they need to be engaged in their jobs.
It is time to remove the employee engagement burden from your shoulders and share it equally with your team members. Your responsibility is to equip and empower your direct reports to clarify and own what they need to be professionally fulfilled.
Here are the five essential steps to guide your workforce through so they can identify what they need to be professionally fulfilled. Once your employees have completed each of the five steps and clarified what they need to be gratified at work, have a conversation and explore how to create a mutually beneficial way to work that supports both of you in achieving your goals.
Step 1: Admit
The first step for your team members is to admit that they have needs for acknowledgment and to identify how they want and need to be recognized and appreciated for their contributions on the team. Appreciation is integral to being content at work.
To help your staff identify their acknowledgment needs, ask them the following questions:
- What was your best day at work?
- What happened?
- What did you do?
- How did you feel?
- What type of praise and recognition did you receive?
When you know this information, how you show appreciation and gratitude is no longer a guessing game. You can acknowledge your direct reports in a way that supports their self-esteem and makes them feel valued.
Step 2: Align
The second step for your employees is to align their strengths and skills to support the accomplishment of your company’s objectives. This lets them shape their work in a way that meets both their professional and personal needs and goals. In this step, your team members reimagine their strengths as their relationship currency. Their strengths are what they offer you in exchange for more choice and control over how they work and what they work on. And because strengths amplify performance, when your direct reports align their strengths to organizational objectives, it creates reciprocally positive opportunities for your company and your team to excel.
Step 3: Develop
The third step is for your direct reports to develop new skills and knowledge that motivate and inspire them to advance in their career as well as within your company. Now, you do not draft your team member’s career development blueprint. This is an employee-directed professional development plan. Your team members identify and choose new capabilities and knowledge to acquire. It is a commitment and investment in themselves that pays off—enhanced confidence as well as opportunities for a promotion or a raise. It also enables your employees to stay agile, excited, passionate, and engaged at work.
Step 4: Cultivate
The fourth step is for your employees to cultivate authentic, positive relationships with the team because conflict and distrust undermine everyone’s performance and happiness.
To experience more positive social interactions and build stronger relationships, your team members need to identify where they undermine their efforts at connection and collaboration, then develop new approaches and strategies so they can foster mutual respect and understanding.
How can they do this? Invite them to move beyond the Golden Rule—treat others as you want them to treat you—and use the Platinum Rule. The Platinum Rule suggests that you treat others the way they want to be treated. It challenges the assumption that other people want to be treated the way you want to be treated and shifts your perspective from a you-centric view of social interactions to an other-centric view of interactions. You approach people with the intention to first understand how they want to be treated and then adapt your interactions with them to meet their needs.
Positive relationships in the workplace are essential for innovation, creativity, productivity, and your workforce’s wellbeing.
Step 5: Design
And the final step is to empower your workforce to design their work for more meaning. To unearth the meaning in their jobs, invite your team members to shift how they perceive their job. Your direct reports will redefine what they see as the nature of the duties and relationships involved in their job. Then, they reframe their job to see it as a meaningful whole that positively impacts others rather than a collection of separate responsibilities.
To assist your employees, ask them to consider the following questions:
- Why do people buy our product or service?
- What is the benefit our customers receive from using our product or service?
- What would happen if our product or service did not exist? For our customer? For our community?
Work has radically and fundamentally changed. And so has your workforce. One-size-fits-all employee engagement strategies will not work in our new world of work, and engagement is no longer exclusively your responsibility. Equip and empower your employees to identify what they need to be fulfilled and then discover together how to work in a way that enables both of you to achieve your goals.