Rise and Shine: Daily Tips for Engaging and Empowering Your Team
Source: US Chamber
Help your team prioritize: With more employees working from home than ever before, the lines between work and personal life get further blurred. This has led to increasing reports of employee burnout and lost productivity in the coronavirus era. One way to help people work through this is task prioritization and focusing on the most important things.
You should work closely with your employees to review tasks and try to help them focus on the big picture. Talk about goals and how each task can contribute meaningfully to business results. Once big tasks are done, encourage employees to sign off to prevent more burnout.
There are multiple clever methods that employees can use to help prioritize tasks as well, including Eat the Frog, the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, the ABCDE Method and Chunking. If needed, work with employees to find the method that works best with their workflow or personality.
Model the change you wish to see: Many changes companies are going through today are not controlled by owners and managers. For example, COVID-19 shutdowns that force remote work on employees who may not want it or radically revising cleaning protocols at offices are clearly unavoidable. These situations are not easy but the best way to get everyone on board is having leaders model the changes themselves.
Recent research shows that when leaders model behavioral changes well, successful company transformations are more likely to happen. “Leaders not only need to be equipped with information and resources, but they need to feel confident leading through change,” the Harvard Business Review writes. “This can be especially challenging, as leaders encounter more pressure to provide better answers and to support their teams. But how your leadership reacts to change will trickle down and impact your managers, who then impact your employees and their engagement.”
Request regular employee feedback: With many companies in a period of sweeping change, it continues to be important to engage with your employees in multiple ways. One aspect of this is requesting direct feedback, which can help you assess employee satisfaction, happiness, and productivity and make changes as needed.
Numerous tools exist to help you collect and manage employee feedback, including TINYpulse, Weekdone and SurveyMonkey. They can help managers track, measure and ultimately fix workplace problems of all kinds. One of the most important aspects of these tools is that the feedback can be completely anonymous, which incentivizes employees to be honest and forthcoming if they want to request changes or ask questions.
Avoid micromanagement: In this new environment where remote work is much more accepted, management norms are changing, especially when it comes to micromanagement. Perhaps in the office, it may have been more acceptable to pop your head in often and ask how a project was going. But this doesn’t come off the same when you are trying to engage remote workers and micromanagement can make them feel like they are not trusted.
Practice transparency as much as possible: While there may be an instinct to hide tough news, transparency is deeply important for organizations in flux. During these uncertain times, it may be difficult to explain everything that is happening, but it’s imperative to try.
Leaders should do whatever they can to explain the why behind the change. “It’s important to share what you know — including what’s changing, when, and how,” wrote Harvard Business Review. “But for most change initiatives, it is also helpful to start with a narrative or story that clearly articulates the ‘big picture’ – why change is important and how it will positively affect the organization long-term. This should serve as the foundation for how you communicate about the change moving forward.”
For example, if your company anticipates having employees work from home longer than originally expected due to COVID-19, tell them exactly what went into the decision-making process. Talk about how this change will keep employees and customers safe and do your best to communicate what can be done to accommodate employees who have trouble working remotely.
Be flexible: During this new era of dramatic change in the workplace, there’s never been a more important time for managers and supervisors to adopt a flexible approach to work. This is essential for helping employees meet new challenges in managing their work-life balance, according to MetLife’s 18th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study 2020.
If you want to better accommodate your employees, create a culture of flexibility and lead by example. Some newly remote workers may want to work the exact same hours they did in the office, while others may need to change it up because they have children they must watch or educate during the day. Using a system where employees can log daily and weekly tasks on their own time means productivity is still achievable in this new framework.
Practice regular communication: If you’re not communicating well with employees, especially during periods of change, your company will ultimately be less successful. So says a study from McKinsey that focuses on transformational change, which takes on greater relevance in the age of COVID-19.
Managers should communicate openly and regularly about transformational efforts, including strategy and courses of action. Company-wide change efforts are between eight and 12 times more likely to be successful if communication efforts are continuous. Updates should be used to focus your team on reaching common goals, answering employee questions and discussing operation changes. And if you don’t have all the answers, let employees know that, too. They’ll appreciate it.
Engage with empathy: Employers who understand what their employees are going through at and outside of work — and take constructive action to address the needs of those employees — will end up with a more engaged and productive workforce, according to MetLife’s 18th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study 2020. Dig deep to find empathy and try to help your employees in new ways.
To find out what the most pressing issues are for employees, you can start to request regular feedback. On top of using tech tools to collect feedback, you can also talk with employees directly using in-person and online meetings. For example, if you do a regular weekly check-in meeting, allocate a few minutes to talk about what would make their lives easier inside and outside of work and see if there is any way you can help. Gathering insights into your employee’s headspace can not only help you be a more informed manager, but it can also create a more open environment where employees speak their minds freely.