If you think of one of the peaks in your career- a high point when you were at your best, doing your best work, highly energized, and looking forward to work each day, chances are that this peak presents a sharp contrast to what you may be experiencing at work today. During this time of working remotely in the not-so-new normal, it can be challenging to keep engagement levels high, even when we’re grateful for our jobs and love the work we do.
Although they might seem miles away, our career peaks can tell us a lot about what we need in our work for it to be fulfilling, especially when we think about the skills, values and passions we were using during that time. They can also demonstrate the power of what it feels like to be fully engaged at work and the impact that can have on ourselves, our teams and our organizations.
Many of the activities we relied on in the past to bring people together to build energy, enthusiasm and engagement aren’t an option during these days of Covid. As research suggests, the top predictors of employee engagement are often an employee’s relationship with their direct manager and the organization’s investment in their development. Fortunately, both of these are factors that ring true during normal times and mean even more during these times of working remotely. People managers are the pivotal force for engaging employees, and here are some actions they can take to build team member engagement and prevent isolation:
- Create a cadence for one-on-one engagement conversations.
While engagement surveys are great tools for identifying themes and key areas for improvement across the organization, it’s also important to recognize and nurture each individual’s motivations, capabilities, and aspirations. Frequently, manager-employee one-on-ones are focused on addressing immediate challenges and prioritizing the day to day tactical work that needs to be accomplished. Communicating about these things is essential for performance, and having dedicated time to talk about what matters to each employee and the bigger picture is essential for engagement.
The take away: Whether it’s quarterly or bi-monthly, commit to a cadence for these higher-level engagement conversations, and take the time to learn more about what motivates each individual on your team.
- Apply what you learn. Having the engagement conversation is just the beginning. As you continue to learn more about what matters to each person, look for ways to help them grow and link the work they do with their values, capabilities and aspirations. For example:
- Communicate how the skills that person is building today will help them succeed, not only within their current role, but also within desired future roles.
- Strategically match projects and delegate work to your team members who have a passion for those areas and want to develop those specific skills.
- Connect your team members with others in the organization who can help them develop their desired skills, learn more about other areas of the business, and increase their visibility.
- Look for opportunities to provide “stretch assignments” and ensure your team members have the support needed for a successful outcome.
- Help your team members uncover their natural strengths or what Liz Wiseman calls “Native Genius” in her fantastic book called Multipliers. Native Genius is more than just a skill, it is an exceptional strength that comes to a person naturally and without effort. Once you identify someone’s native genius, you can help them identify opportunities in which they can leverage their strengths and increase their impact.
While we’re all dealing with the limitations of what work looks like today, we will eventually transition to the next chapter.
As you think about the future, what else can you do today to have a positive impact on the lives and careers of those you lead?
For more ideas about how to support your leaders during this time connect with us!