Can Leadership Reverse Disengaged Employees New Year's Resolutions?

2 Women - 1 Job Searching 1 Loving JobLady Thinking About New JobAs one year closes and a new one begins, it’s a time when we begin to reflect on the past and turn our attention to changing for the better in the upcoming 12 months and beyond. Eager promises of eating healthier, exercising more, managing finances better, visiting somewhere new, and being less stressed (in and out of work) are just a few of the popular ideas that get penciled in.

And for many, their New Years' Resolution list also includes finding a new, better, and more rewarding job. They have become despondent and disengaged with their current situation and have decided that now is a time for a change. This can become challenging, disruptive, and very costly for the business.

But now is also a perfect time to set a new business resolution to become a better place to work. Indeed, organizations can strategically utilize their employees' newfound focus on bettering themselves to support and reinforce this across teams, departments, and the entire company.

When the employees have renewed vigor and enthusiasm about them, it makes perfect sense to strike while the iron is hot. There is little value in thinking about it, skimming through some 'leadership’ book, or running another staff survey. Organizations need transformation, not just information.

According to most studies, we know that most intentional and voluntary resignations (approx. 75%) are due to poor working relations, generally with the person's boss or supervisors. These (now former) employees felt they were mistreated when the reality may have been that they didn't express how they needed to be treated or be given the vehicle to do so.

Here are some pointers to help you not just retain, but get the best out of your organization's most important assets;

Make Your Employees Feel Valued

This is the single most important thing in any working relationship.

Feeling valued in the workplace directly impacts our sense of self-belief, which in turn creates a positive self-image propelling us to work to our full potential.

High self-esteem is the fuel that drives performance

Individualize the experience rather than have it be and feel generic. While it is a highly worthwhile gesture to order lunch for the team occasionally, your top performer and brand-new intern have both been rewarded with the same thing. Your top performer doesn't feel very valued at this point, but if you instead give them an afternoon off or let them attend a seminar they asked about, they clearly understand you appreciate them and value them within the team.

Also, encourage your team members to tell each other what they value about their individual and unique contributions, such as their focus, optimism, persuasiveness, humor, patience, etc... You could make this a team-building game or activity in a team meeting.

Remember, when significant people in our lives notice and acknowledge the contributions we make, we feel valued and more productive.

Motivate Your Workforce

Motivation usually stems from some form of self-interest, and great leaders are also great motivators within the work environment.

Young Woman Who Loves Her Job Find out what is important in work to each person and do what you can (within boundaries) to make this happen for them. We all have different self-interests, such as;

  • some like to work alone, while others prefer to be part of a team
  • some like to be creative, while others favor specific and precise direction
  • some like goals with established deadlines, while others prefer tasks with sufficient time to check...and double-check
  • some like to be publicly recognized in front of their peers, while others favor a private and personal thank-you

Additionally, motivation should also be seen as the ‘job’ of everyone, not just managers. For example, ask your senior employees to take on a mentoring role with some newer employees. Not only will the mentor feel valued and motivated by the faith and trust you have shown in them, but the mentee will notice that you have a genuine interest in their career and will aspire to impress the mentor.

Motivation in the workplace translates into energy, energy into action and action into results.

Treat Feedback As A 2-Way Street

Feedback in the workplace is probably the most powerful yet under-used and ill-used management tool. Feedback is about sharing your reactions to another party's ideas, feelings, or behaviors.

However, too frequently, it comes across as criticism because it is usually only delivered when something doesn’t go as well as hoped. Most of us would rather be ruined by praise than saved by feedback.

Try having a feedback session in 1-on-1 and team or departmental meetings. Encourage feedback between the entire team rather than have it be simply something a supervisor does when required. Managers who are blunt and ‘straight-talking’ can actually close down relationships with employees and cause them to disconnect. Be approachable and have time for people's issues...that way, they actually initiate the opportunity for feedback. Set the example and encourage communications such as;

  • How can I help you do your job better?
  • I really like it when you...
  • How can I be more supportive?

It is said we have one tongue and two ears so we may hear twice as much as we say, so ensure you also listen attentively to everything your co-workers say and don't fall into the trap of jumping in with a response too early.

Build an action plan collectively based on all parties' feedback on all issues to reinforce that you are part of the team and a caring leader/colleague.

Not only will this improve the willingness to engage in feedback, but it will also promote a culture of openness and trust.

Let's Get Started

By simply improving the relationships between people who work together, an organization can very quickly strengthen staff engagement and loyalty.

Find out what drives individuals and their needs, and encourage them to tell you how they want to be treated. In nearly every case, these will be attainable together, and even if they are not, your employee will recognize and appreciate that you have taken the time to listen.

The manager-employee relationship is extremely important but so too is the overall team dynamic.

By helping your team to feel valued, be motivated and engage in proactive feedback (all year round), not only will you quickly become a better place to work, but the disengaged employee's intentions to find another job will likely suffer the same fate as most other New Years Resolutions.