Communication, compassion, and clear expectations will boost employee buy-in and belonging so that you can retain your Team.
Managing people is one of, if not the most, difficult leadership responsibilities. Leading people can sometimes feel like herding cats. If you need a good laugh during your next break, check out this hilarious commercial.
The kaleidoscope of personalities, emotions, traumas, and conflicts creates challenges far beyond that of writing an email, creating a meeting agenda, designing a new program, and any other non-people-driven leadership tasks.
How, in a world where employees leave companies at a rate higher than ever before, can you retain your most valuable commodities—your people? You do this through consistent communication, compassion, and clear expectations.
A lack of consistent communication is akin to leading a Team blind. They may feel isolated, left in the dark, and undervalued. Trust will diminish quickly without open communication.
A leader’s level of empathy and compassion directly correlates with the Team’s joy and fulfillment. According to the Harvard Business Review, job satisfaction is 85% higher for an employee who works for a wise and compassionate leader than for an employee who does not. Empathy and compassion are powerful attributes that will enhance understanding and commitment. Without compassion, the Team moves into a compliance-driven environment.
Without clear expectations, work is based on assumptions and inefficiencies become the norm. Tear down the walls and offer clarity so that your Team has peace of mind and moves in the right direction.
Action steps to lead with enhanced communication, bolstered compassion, and clearer expectations:
- Transparency – With increased workplace anxieties, it is vital that the leaders practice transparency to ease tensions and decrease the fight or flight inclinations that plague our workforce when people are under heightened stress. Your employees need to feel as though you aren’t holding anything back.
- Close the loop – We often accomplish our tasks, but how often do we close the loop with our stakeholders? For example, if you promise to speak to your direct supervisor on behalf of a subordinate but don’t relay the conversation back to your subordinate, they lose faith in you and assume that you never had the conversation.
- Listen – Practice the “4:1 – two ears, two eyes, and one mouth approach.” It can be detrimental when the leader is the only one making the decision. It also eliminates a sense of autonomy and innovation with your employees. They need to feel heard and seen.
- Feedback is a team effort – The book “Nine Lies About Work” and the Harvard Business Review Article “Feedback Isn’t Enough to Help Your Employees Grow” highlight the importance of positive corrective action. “Telling people they are missing the mark is not the same as helping them hit the mark.” Work through the challenge with your employees and take ownership if you were unclear with your expectations.
- Honor diverse perspectives – make sure your most vulnerable feel safe so that they can contribute their best selves. If you accomplish this, your Team will have increased creativity, productivity, and joy.
- Have empathy, then move into compassion – Empathy is seeing things from someone else’s perspectives, which is vital but can stall our decision making. Empathy + action = Compassion and allows us to address others’ concerns. Once you move to compassion, you can remove yourself from the emotions, ask what they need, and guide your employee to overcome their hurdles.
- Clear Expectations:
- Let go – Layout the “what” and the “why” and let your Team discover their “how.” As Harvard Business Review describes, “Leadership is about seeing and hearing others, setting a direction, and then letting go of controlling what happens next.”
- Have confidence in your Team – Have faith and patience in the process. It is more powerful to be an ally than a critic.
- Delegate tasks – Your people are your priority. Use this weekly check-in outline for productive conversations. If you don’t have time to check in weekly, delegate tasks that others can do so that you can check in and clarify expectations regularly. These expectations should be multilateral. The Team has expectations of their leaders and should be able to voice them.
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