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5 Tips for Leading Employee Experience-How Prepared Are You?

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Introduction

The concept of employee experience is getting a lot of focus right now.

The great resignation, the current phenomena sweeping across corporate America, means that employee expectations are peaking.

Employees are demanding greater flexibility, greater work-life balance, and more positive, progressive cultures and employment policies. Aligning your work with a sense of purpose and looking to feel included, once considered 'nice-to-have' are becoming 'must-haves'.

While employees are being highly selective about the companies they want to work for, it is the employers who are best able to keep up with these expectations that will win the competition for the best talent. This is why many experts have re-named the great resignation, the great opportunity. 

Companies need managers and leaders who are able to deliver superior business performance AND who lead in such a way that they retain talent. And as the demand for workplaces to be more 'human' continues to rise, it is heart-centered leaders who will be needed, and who will be called upon to help companies change where they need to.

Will you choose to be the kind of manager who steps up to this challenge, and supports the changing landscape of expectations, winning the talent retention game? Subsequently positioning yourself to advance your own leadership impact and career?

A Leader and an Employee

As a manager you are both a leader and an employee - how are you feeling about the employee experience in your company right now?

As an employee are you experiencing a good level of work satisfaction, or is it a great level of satisfaction? Perhaps, very little satisfaction?

Are you finding your workplace provides you with a positive culture, a sense of belonging, and the ability to bring your whole self and your best self to your work?

As a manager/leader, do you have the freedom from your superiors to provide the tools, culture, and environment for your team members to experience a great level of work satisfaction, a positive culture, a sense of belonging, and the ability to bring their whole selves and their best self to their work?

And as a manager/leader, are you equipped with the right skills, knowledge, and mindset to create an environment where your team members will have an optimal employee experience?

Are you able to strategically and successfully influence upwards in your organization to transform your company and workplace to be ready for prioritizing an optimal employee experience?

I know that the answers to all of these questions are nuanced and intertwined. Certainly, they are not straightforward.

Employers are currently experiencing a marketplace that provides employees with greater choice, and it is critically important for you and your organization to start to think through these issues carefully so that you can be positioned to retain your talent, and perhaps take advantage of the opportunities available.

As well as for you to position yourself as a leader who knows how to do this!

Actions All Managers Can Take Now

Jacob Morgan, the author of Future Leader, shares 3 key facets for organizations to consider when thinking about employee experience. They are; Culture, Technology, and Space.

These are critically important and depend on enterprise-wide alignment and consistent action.

For the mid-level Manager looking to optimize their own leadership impact and team experience within a broader eco-system of an organization, here are 5 actions that you can implement as a leader for your own team right now.

  1. 1
    Put yourself in your employee's shoes
  2. 2
    Be curious
  3. 3
    Figure out your hybrid working options
  4. 4
    Triage your broken processes and tools
  5. 5
    Consider the Platinum Rule (rather than the Golden Rule)

I encourage you to consider these carefully in the context of your own team, as well as to spend some time influencing up to help shape your whole organization's approach to fostering and delivering an optimal employee experience.

Let's look at each of the 5 in more detail.

1. Put yourself in your employee's shoes 

  • Think about how it felt to come to work in your first few years of working. Can you remember what it was like before you were in a formal leadership role and had less information and insight into the inner workings of your company? Try to imagine how your employees might be feeling with less 'inside' knowledge than you have.
  • Remember a time in your career that was personally challenging, perhaps after a house move, a romantic break-up, or some other major life change. What personal experiences are your employees going through right now?
  • You may not share the exact experiences that your team members are going through, but by thinking back to your own challenging experiences and remembering how they felt, perhaps you can bring more insight to your ability to support your employees as their manager.

2. Be curious

  • One of the best ways to develop empathy is to be curious. Ask questions about what your employees are experiencing.
  • This includes both personal and workplace experiences. What tools and processes need to improve in your workplace that will enhance your employees' experience, as well as potentially positively impact the business bottom line?
  • Approach conversations of inquiry with compassion and an open mind. Learn to pause before you respond, particularly when you see things differently. Ask follow-up questions to create more clarity when you hear surprising information.

3. Figure out your hybrid working options

  • You may not have full empowerment here, but exercise your authority all of the way.
  • Some people want to work remotely, and some want to be in the office full-time, and others are looking to have the option of doing both at their own discretion.
  • Acknowledge the challenges and opportunities, and work together with your team to get this right. What are the technologies needed, what meeting practices need to be adapted, and what unique opportunities are there for building team morale? Be creative. Be honest with your team that you don't have it all figured out. Invite their co-creation for the best solutions.

4. Triage your broken processes and tools

  • You may not have a lot of control over enterprise-wide processes and software applications. But if there are work tools and processes that are driving people crazy and limiting people's work effectiveness, make sure you know about these, and provide feedback to the right parts of your organization. You owe it to your team and your company to look to fix these energy sapping, and productivity sapping issues.
  • Be transparent and authentic with your team and let them know that while you cannot change everything, you are willing to listen and to work together to find 'work-around' solutions that might help at least your own work team.

5. Consider the Platinum Rule (rather than the Golden Rule)

  • You may have heard of the Golden Rule - do unto others, as you would want to have done unto yourself. This is good, but what is great, is the Platinum Rule - do unto others, as they would want to have done unto themselves.
  • Getting this right necessitates knowing your team members. Understand their preferences and dislikes. Show them that you care by remembering these small details and incorporating them into the decisions you are making.
  • A quick example might be that you know a good portion of your team that are working from home on Thursdays and Fridays has school-age children. Make a decision that all zoom calls on those days will end by 3pm enabling these team members the flexibility to greet their kids home from school. Or perhaps even go pick them up!
  •  Another example might be that you have a team member acting as a primary carer for an elderly parent in their home, know their schedule too and adjust expectations. I am sure you can come up with some creative ideas specific for your team that will engender a lot of goodwill.

Last Thoughts

As a mid-level manager, you may not be able to change everything.

Don't be discouraged by this.

And don't let it stop you from exercising all of the authority you do have to make things better for yourself and your team where you can.

You will find that your team will not only respect you for taking action but will also show you a level of discretionary effort in response to feeling cared for, that will pay dividends to your business bottom line and to team morale.

You very well may find yourself in a position where you are being sought out by your superiors to help the broader organization move forward in the arena of employee experience.

If you are looking for more information on employee experience then you might be interested in this article from McKinsey that describes the concept further.

Link to McKinsey Article on Employee Experience

Supporting you on your leadership journey,

Magenta Roads, Principal, Carla Santamaria

PS. Please share if you found this helpful.



Tags

Employee Experience, Inspiration, Leadership


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