As the nights start to draw in, Winter is a good time for leaders to consider how their employees should be treated in order to get the best from them every day. Treating employees as valued contributors is an effective way of moving away from reliance on unwieldy policies and moving towards building a stronger relationship between the employee and the organisation.
From our extensive experience of working with organisations of all sizes from Asia Pacific and the UK we’ve identified that high performance organisations encourage employees to….
Leaders from high performing organisations encourage their people to own up to mistakes so that it can be rectified. In many organisations, owning up to mistakes can often result in a negative outcome for team members, so they become less prepared to do so. The ensuing lack of transparency can often result in leaders making decisions based on incorrect assumptions and data. If mistakes are punished, it can lead to staff playing it safe and a stifling of creativity and innovation. Leaders also need to encourage their people to speak their minds and challenge their own incorrect leadership decisions respectfully. Often staff will withhold their feedback for fear of reprisals. HR should be empowered to support this by keeping employee conversations confidential, except in cases of sexual harassment, employment discrimination, and illegal activities.
Understand what is expected of them
Effective leaders tell employees what is expected of them. From the moment they are inducted into the organisation, they are shown what excellent performance on the job looks like. Also, the goal posts aren’t moved constantly during their tenure. People aren’t constantly surprised by daily shifts in priorities. Leaders are prepared to tell people honestly how they’re doing, any time they want to know.
Work together, not compete against each other
Effective organisations don’t pit their employees against one another. All too often we observe employees being encouraged to compete with one another rather than external competitors. As a result the organisation loses out through wasted effort and poor knowledge sharing between competing colleagues. The customer also loses. Managers often play favourites and label a small group of people winners and the rest as de-motivated or too difficult to deal with. Top performing organisations believe that everyone wins when the organisation acts as one.
Have a work/ life balance
In a high performing organisation, people don’t succeed by virtue of being glued to their office chairs around the clock. Leaders care more about results than seeing their direct reports endure long, hard hours. The emphasis is on ideas and results, not “looking good” by out-suffering fellow colleagues. Leaders are conscious not to promote people into management jobs unless they share the same belief.
Treat each other with Respect
Leaders promote healthy debate. They demand that employees show each other respect; as well as being respectful towards clients and suppliers. They don’t expect employees to take abuse from clients, or the other way around. Above all, they treat everyone as a valued fellow contributor. “Boss” to employees should be understood as “mentor, coach, and team organiser,” not “tyrant” or “queen bee“.
Access to Relevant Information
Employees should be trusted with the information required to do their jobs. Information doesn’t flow best when it goes exclusively through managers and then selectively to the people who can act on it. This can be frustrating to staff and makes them feel distrusted. Employees should also be encouraged to talk to one another and serve as mentors, building strong and deep relationships inside and outside the organisation. The success of the organisation relies on this.
Employees expect their organisations to offer training opportunities, not always in the classroom and not always by the book. Leaders should never stand in the way of a team member’s professional growth if it doesn’t slow down the business. The old-fashioned corporate ladder with defined career steps and timelines rarely exists in the complex and nonlinear world of work we’re operating in now. Leaders should be constantly looking for learning opportunities in order to develop talent and retain their people.