Has there ever been a more crucial time for strong, decisive leadership? From the political sphere to the corporate world, challenging times shine the spotlight on our leaders. And with global uncertainty about the health, social and economic repercussions of COVID-19, it’s never been more important to be aware of the impact corporate leaders have on staff engagement.
It seems as though the thing that separates the engaged from the disengaged is relatively simple – effective, purposeful leadership. The current crisis makes this even more apparent. This means that if you are keen to sustain or even boost engagement within your organisation, it might make sense to make some changes that start at the very top.
Instead of pursuing high engagement for its own sake, managers and leaders should look at the bigger picture. What outcome is your business working to achieve? Do you have essential short-term objectives that must be achieved? In times of uncertainty, horizons shorten and a phased approach to reaching longer term objectives is the only way forward. How will engagement help you get there?
By looking at engagement as part of an overall strategy rather than as a goal to be pursued separately, you will be better able to align your strategy to your outcomes and create a lasting shift in your corporate culture. While for many organisations right now the strategy is simply to stay in business, don’t underestimate how significantly engaged, passionate workers can contribute to that goal.
Another crucial driver of engagement is to ensure that expectations are laid out clearly from the outset. When employees know exactly what they are required to do, and they are given the training and resources required to carry out their duties, you have laid out the foundations for engaging, productive work. This is even more critical during times of mass upheaval. For example, providing the tools, resources and communication channels to be able to work successfully from home will go a long way towards keeping people engaged.
Circumstances have changed but people still want to know what’s expected of them. If key performance indicators (KPIs) and objectives and key results (OKRs) have had to be altered due to new operating conditions, make sure this is clearly communicated to employees. What are the new goals and how will you, as their leader or manager, help employees achieve them? Will people still receive professional development? What happens with remuneration and benefits? While you may not have all the answers right now, simply taking the time to understand what’s top of mind for employees during uncertain times can go a long way towards people feeling appreciated and valued.
Of course, maintaining employee engagement is an ongoing process that needs regular attention and fine-tuning. Now, more than ever before, you want to know the feelings and thoughts of your employees.
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