A leader's job is to instill confidence in his/her team that there is a future worth working and fighting for. If the future looks bleak, people will seek that confidence elsewhere. Maybe there is a vivid future ahead, but if it's not being talked about, then it may as well not exist in the eyes of your staff.
The leader needs to help the team see the light.
- Have a vision and communicate it with enthusiasm.
- Keep the team regularly updated on the progress toward the vision.
- Bring the team in to help create parts of the structure where appropriate. Brainstorm with the team to get their ideas. Leaders should compile the ideas and make the decisions, but feeling like someone has listened goes a long way to accepting ownership of an idea.
- Present information in a logical way and don't get ahead of yourself. For example, talking compensation if you haven't yet talked about roles and responsibilities will just confuse things.
- Keep laying out the path in front of people. Let them see there is a next step to be taken even if you're not quite there yet.
People want safety of knowing that there is a plan and that they'll be okay. Universally, when a person's safety feels threatened, they react. In the office, that reaction is to retreat, rebel, or leave. None of these is a good situation for the employee or the employer.
Why have employee disengagement rates been so incredibly high these past several years? Because there appears to not be a future worth working and fighting for.
Want to change those rates in your agency or in client companies? Then start with a vision and some positive communication about a future of possibilities.
Photo by Sam Howzit.