Leading in digital times means above all the ability to adapt one’s own behavior to changes. How can you make your team ready and willing to change? Very simple: By pro-actively change your team on a regular basis.
Think back… How did you learn to speak Spanish, French or other foreign languages? Bit by bit, over and over again. Hour after hour. Exam after exam. Also, there were songs from your favorite bands, the lyrics of your favorite songs, and all those other things which unconsciously helped you learn the foreign language.
And then it happened one day: Your first contact with native Spanish speakers, perhaps Argentineans or your first trip to South America. You were ready as you had spent hundreds of hours studying Spanish.
It’s is exactly the same in the world of business!
If you want to make your team fit for change, then you must change your team regularly. Makes sense.
But how can you do this? You can kill two birds with one stone. Let each employee learn, work on themselves, and reflect regularly: What are they already doing well? What could they do better? At the same time, you are making your employees fit for change.
A Gallup study has shown that 85% of all workers are not, or only slightly, emotionally engaged in their jobs. But what does Gallup say YOU can do to improve that? This important part is mentioned far too rarely! The top advice from the Gallup Institute on turning employees into emotionally highly engaged employees is to let them do what they excel at.
Now, you can say that is already the case… my employee in controlling wants to work in controlling… my assistant wants to work as an assistant… and my civil engineer wants to continue working in civil engineering in the future.
How well do you know your employees?
Question: Are you sure?
How do you know?
Have you ever asked the following of each of your employees: If you could choose a job in the team, in the company, or even anywhere, what would it be? Pay attention not only to the answer, but also to how quickly and with what body language your employee responds.
Is your employee doing her dream job? Or not? Find out! Support your employee’s critical questioning.
This process may take a few days. So, remain in dialogue with your employee about this issue, and be stubborn until you have an answer.
If your employee ends up saying “Yes, this is my dream job”, then great. If she concludes that it isn’t, then help her to change jobs. Maybe this can be managed within your team, maybe within the company, and maybe it just has to be outside the company. Maybe it’s a new job, maybe it’s also just a forgotten hobby or passion that the employee is now reactivating.
Dedicated employees don’t fall from the sky. So this effort is worth it!
Why settle for less?
Aim for the maximum goal: Your employee works with heart and soul and is emotionally highly engaged in your team. According to the Gallup study, this means that in this case your employee is in the top 15% in terms of motivation for daily work. Why settle for less?
Do you want your results to be excellent or only mediocre? Stand up for your employees! Guide them. If you show that you are committed to your employees, then your employees will also be committed to you. And since you – this is my personal conviction – are one of those leaders who regularly and proactively educate themselves through this blog, I trust you. Go the extra mile for your employees!
The concrete implementation in the business world
Let’s take a closer look at the proposal from the Gallup Institute. Gallup says that employees are supposed to be able to do what they’re really good at. If your employees are already doing what they like to do, then support your employees to do it better. How? By helping your employees learn. Define a personal growth or development goal for each of your employees.
Situations that could make your employees better:
– If there is much debate going on with another department: Stronger behavior in stressful conflict situations would help.
– Her desk is always chaotic: Regular self-organization and planning are called for.
– He’s at work until 7pm or 8pm, but has recently become a father? Help him focus on the essentials in ordert o be able to go home earlier.
If your employees learn to develop their personal behavior on a regular basis, then they will become more competent. They will do their job better, and that makes it easier for you. The employees are less stressed and more satisfied. In the end, they also deliver better results. It is a win-win-win for the employees, for you as leader, and for the company.
Knowledge only benefits if you act on it
After a talk last week, I spoke to a company executive about one of his employees who keeps shutting down at key moments and is no longer relaxed and constructive. Both employee and leader know about this, but they are not actively working on it.
But this is easily addressed. Of course, he could bring in a coach, but that doesn’t have to be the first port of call every time. What can you do as the leader:
6 Steps for individual learning
Identify the problem behavior and describe it crystal-clear in writing – including the situations in which the behavior occurs and what shows that the behavior has turned into a positive one.
Let the employee work out what exactly he can do to behave differently. If he finds this difficult, then you the boss, the human resources department, YouTube videos, or online courses can help.
Now give your employee feedback every 8 weeks regarding this behavior on a scale of 1-10. Also ask your employee “What’s good?” and “What’s missing to a 10?”
Let your employee identify one or two more people to give such feedback every 8 weeks. That can be within the job sphere itself or even privately.
Based on this feedback, every two months your employee should develop an 8-week implementation plan containing concrete activities.
You can review this plan and then give more feedback for these activities.
Once a week, your employee should reflect in writing for 5-10 minutes on what he did well this week, what he didn’t do so well, and what he intends to do during the coming week. The goal is to make it clear to him that this self-reflection is essential to his own learning.
Every 8 weeks have a conversation with the employee, whereby your employee shares his progress and his feedback results with you.
Your time investment is necessary and manageable
In total, your employee invests 1 hour every week in their own learning to achieve this new behavior. You, on the other hand, will invest less than one hour over the two months: An hour at the start to define the target, then every two months a 20-minute conversation plus short one-minute intermediate feedbacks.
Your employee cannot not learn with these mechanisms. He will improve, becoming increasingly competent and satisfied. His job will be easier for him. His results will, of course, also improve and he will be more committed to his day-to-day work. At the same time, you are binding this employee to yourself as a manager, as he learns with you and noticeably improves. Your employee knows, “My boss doesn’t make it easy for himself or me. I’m learning and I’m getting better. I like to work for my boss!”
Just as it is with a foreign language: Your employee will be regularly working on himself and feeling that he is achieving better results. This is how you manage to make it clear to your employee that change is normal. We do this ourselves all the time and we are constantly doing it in our processes, priorities, and projects.
Marcus Buckingham of the Gallup Institute once said “Employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.”
Make sure your employees bind themselves to you of their own accord! Because you run them with professionalism.
Best of success!
Your Markus Jotzo