One of the top questions on most managers’ minds these days is how to inspire and maintain team members’ morale. In fact, with everything going on, it’s become quite a juggling act.
Managers are worried about their team members quitting… and with good reason. Employees are leaving at a record pace while finding replacements is becoming increasingly difficult. Not to mention the training and recruiting costs which can often be twice the employee’s annual salary. That’s why the phrases “Great Resignation” and “Turnover Tsunami” have so much current buzz.
One of the biggest reasons employees are quitting is their stress levels are exceedingly high, and they want to find “greener pastures” where they feel more valued, and are seen and heard.
So, how does a manager help decrease their people’s stress level?
It’s not about lowering standards or investing large amounts of money. Instead, it’s learning to focus on smaller, positive action steps.
Here are seven key strategies:
Be Consistent. “Do what you said you’d do the way you’d said you do it, and when you said you’d do it by.” Whenever I’ve hired employees for my team, I share this expectation of them. If they don’t meet these standards, they are no longer part of my team. But equally important, I too must follow this “golden rule.” If a team member comes to you with a concern, follow through with what you promised. This action builds trust. No one wants to work for a manager that they can’t trust.
Communicate. This action doesn’t mean an around-the-clock open-door policy as you would never get any work done. However, it does mean making yourself available for your team to talk with you. Depending on the size of your team, it might mean “set” hours where you’re available. It’s always best practice to communicate promptly as the current environment creates a lot of energy for the rumor mill.
Actively Listen. Ask questions. Repeat back what the person said. Make sure you are hearing people correctly. Often, we interpret something differently than the way it is being said. You can’t help or support a team member if you don’t fully understand.
Create Connection. Evaluate what you are doing daily, weekly, and monthly to lead and create a successful team. Help your team members set and keep boundaries, especially regarding communication outside of work hours.
Being a good manager isn’t all about putting out fires and solving problems. It’s creating a strong, cohesive team that can support each other, celebrate together, and weather storms.
Be Empathetic. Although the pandemic has brought about a lot of new trendy phrases, I hope you stop using this one – “new normal.” That phrase is based on the expectation that one size fits all. Since last year, we’ve learned that everyone reacts to the pandemic differently based on life experiences. So, if you haven’t already sharpened your “empathy” skills, now is the time.
Be Authentic. The pandemic has been a pivotal time for everyone. No one’s life has been unchanged. Without turning conversations into a rant session, let your team know how you’re doing, what your concerns are, and how you’re handling them. When done with grace, this action will create a lot of respect for you.
Be Appreciative. Years ago, bestselling author Daniel Pink shared that people stay in jobs where they’re appreciated. He went on to write that appreciation has a higher value to most employees than extra bonuses. This realization makes sense as it goes back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with “being appreciated” being a basic need of people. (I’m not saying that people don’t like to receive bonuses! So whenever possible keep those flowing too!)
BONUS STRATEGY: Get support. When I was a senior flight attendant after college, we always said to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others. There’s a reason for that. If you’re depleted, you can’t help others. To effectively support your team, you also need to have people who support you whether this is another member of the management team or an executive coach. Create a daily routine of self-care that you can maintain. Seriously, if you don’t follow this step, you’re likely to become part of the “Great Resignation.”
When you start to apply these seven key strategies, you will ultimately find your best leadership style. You’ll create a team that you’re proud of and one where the members are pleased they belong. You’re supporting an environment of trust, respect, and value. That’s a work culture where people thrive and longevity becomes the norm.