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Every business leader influences his or her employees, but that influence should be done with intent and a clear understanding of the desired end-stage of their workplace culture and their relationship with company goals. A leader who moves without a clear, consistent focus can very quickly undermine trust and create toxic effects that are difficult to reverse and can affect the bottom line of the business. Small business executives in particular should recognize the direct relationship between how executives and employees work and the stability of the company.
As a leader, becoming an effective influencer is not an easy task. If it did, there would be a lower percentage of disgruntled ex-employees and reduce turnover across the board. In the HR department, it is often pointed out that the majority of employees are leaving their employers because of poor management and leadership. From personal experience that has supported many entrepreneurs, large and small, over the past 20 years, some of the common, consistent reasons for employee departure shared with me include:
“I didn't feel heard or respected.” “My contributions weren't recognized.” “The environment was toxic and chaotic.” “My part of the broader strategy wasn't clear.” “My manager didn't support my growth. "
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Here are some approaches to building a job without these beliefs with committed employees.
Training for "unicorn employees"
A common desire among business owners experiencing growth is that their next employee be a “unicorn” – that elusive person with the innate traits that are difficult to cultivate and that can lead to the development of the entire organization. My answer is, "What plans do you have to develop your current workforce towards this ideal?" The answers are often inconclusive.
Most companies have not invested in training programs that are an effective way to develop their workforce into the state of greatest potential. Such investments, when made effectively, have the advantage that they not only improve the success of the workforce in the individual roles of the people, but also lead to improved satisfaction, long-term stability of the workforce and improved trust by the leadership " in her corner ”.
Some critical, but often overlooked, training areas I recommend to companies include:
Effective communication and conflict management. Competency development, tailored to individual responsibilities and career plan. Alignment with corporate goals and implementation of common principles. Develop leadership skills based on trust and relationship.
Review your company values and reaffirm them
At some point, almost every company will make the decision to document their shared beliefs as value statements. When I work with a new organization to identify areas for improvement, the leadership will inevitably share their corporate values as a preliminary to their culture and guiding principles. In the vast majority of cases, I receive feedback that indicates that employees usually perceive these as buzzwords – rarely (and generally for the public benefit) confirmed and usually not present in daily decisions.
This importance of a focus on the daily application of values cannot be overstated. Belief in leadership and a shared sense of responsibility towards the organization are fundamental. As an example, we have defined our values in my current team around the acronym HOOK: humility, over-fulfillment, optimism and friendliness. We are working to incorporate this into daily circumstances to ensure that the application of the values to newly emerging scenarios does not deviate from what is intended. The long-term orientation of the team, especially towards new members, is promoted through the documentation of relevant scenarios for further common awareness in discussions or training courses.
Without this contextual application, values are sometimes forgotten or conflicted in their interpretation, which can make the acronym a mnemonic device that amplifies disparate outcomes and is a source of frustration.
Adaptation to different communication styles
There are several types of personality assessment that are used to evaluate potential employees. Unfortunately, it is less understood and seldom applied that these ratings can be used for continued employee engagement and growth in interpersonal skills.
I have worked with many clients who have used the DISC onboard employee profiling method, which is used at the start of employment and is rarely (if ever) mentioned again. My strong recommendation to clients is that such profiles be made available to all team members in order to understand best communication methods with the new member and to use collective team profiles to improve collaboration.
For example, if I were to use the DISC model to address a teammate with high dominance (the "D" in DISC) in a particular situation, I would modulate that I am on a direct path to the solution. If I were instead to work with a highly conscientious ("C") person for a similar scenario, I would instead focus on providing significant details about the situation and the way forward. For each of the different profile types, the most important opportunity is for the assessment to control subtle changes in interaction that allow leaders to decrease reluctance and make significant improvements in communication and influence.
Related: 11 Affordable Employee Morale Boosters
While an employee's relationship with their company has multiple facets, leaders in the organization have unique potential to affect the health and longevity of the relationship. The key is to weigh what employees bring with them and how managers can build trust through systems that increase the likelihood of success for everyone.