With the shift from being in the same office pre-COVID and sharing conversations outside of meetings, to being at home, trying to fit everything into an online meeting has certainly hindered some kind of engagement.
Not to mention, the minimalistic chance of reading body language and being “there” to see where there is resignation, and where we are stepping on people’s toes.
As of these times, some companies decided to go back to the office or offering hybrid models of remote and in-office work with flexibility to maintain people’s contentment about scheduling their own time. And still, there seems to be a lack of correlational understanding of why employees disengage, lose motivation, and don’t deliver. Despite the flexibility, creative support, and fair payment they are being offered.
Why is there no improvement in results when employees’ personal needs are obviously being met?
Surprisingly, it is not necessarily a lack of integrity or motivation from their side, rather than a lack of managers’ skills that keep people from working towards the desired result.
According to a survey of The Predictive Index (2021), employees feel that managers don’t communicate effectively and don’t lead by example with driving team morale.
While team building was the most needed activity that managers lack for engagement back in 2020, amongst the 2000+ interviewed individuals across 15 industries, it partially increased through the fact that we were all faced with the same challenge of changed work environments and companies got creative with convenient and engaging online team activities.
Now, in 2021, the weight is put on the ability to communicate effectively when aiming to close the gap between engagement and results.
These skills are now inevitable for managers to obtain and drive success.
So, what can managers do to enable teams to engage and produce desired results, both remote AND in-office?
I usually recommend taking inventory of the frequency and manner of your communication with team members as a first step:
1. Communication Reflection and Improvement
“Effective communication” sounds almost instinctively, but isn’t.
First, you have to become an engaged listener, by focusing on what is being said – concerns, opinions, feedback, and questions.
Once you really understand the person you are talking to, it will come naturally to engage in that conversation as a response to what you hear and not what you are planning to say.
Refraining from judgment and assumptions helps to maintain a listening and open ear.
Using open body language to enhance effective communication is another way in fulfilling the needs of positive non-verbal communication.
Unfortunately, most of it has been taken away in times of COVID-19 and home-office, which makes it even more important to become more aware of it when returning to in-office work culture.
Now, the next question is:
When are you usually being in touch with your team members?
Is it during times of crisis, or when questions arise? For annual feedback? For tasks?
Effective communication has to go deeper, more regular, and in between, in order to align mission, purpose, and result and depending on the need of each individual.
2. One-on-One Meetings
Once you talk to your team members about a set goal and the mission you are on, it becomes important to follow some random “pulse checks” to see where there is support, improvement, and feedback needed.
Also, never underestimate the importance of communication and mutual understanding to evaluate workloads and time management to prevent burnout.
Clear communication, conflict solutions, creating a safe environment where questions can be asked, opinions can be expressed, and contributing ideas are appreciated with an open mind, are the foundation of psychological safety.
Set time aside to meet with your team members regularly and encourage them to approach you with things that are unclear or have to be said.
3. Leading by Example
Of course, all the above have minimal impact if not led by example.
If a leader expects people to open up about their concerns, questions, and feedback, they have to do the same.
A team member won’t be more engaged than before if they have been told to approach managers with their personal perspective if they aren’t being approached with an open ear and vulnerability in return by them.
Setting clear expectations about communication means that everybody involved should find themselves in a space of psychological safety – remote AND in-office.
If we use the example of taking a break, a vacation, or time off, and the expectation is to recharge, a leader should live this way by example by NOT checking emails, phone, and work-related discussions if off work.
Because, subconsciously, this develops the belief that the team members are expected to do the same and the vacation to recharge for better performance after turns into a busy week with a racing mind about what to do when returning to the office.
Do what you preach, listen with your open heart and mind, and you will notice how easy it will be to be followed by the same – open hearts and minds. 😉
>> If you are struggling with effective communication, low performance, or not being heard, I am here to listen and to engage and develop your superpower as a leader of the new global work environment.
You start with a simple click and the rest will follow.