How to Make Your Employees Love You (The New Way to Manage People)
Become a connected leader and bridge the gap in your people, your goals, and your company.
Head of Learning Experience
2021 was known as the "great resignation". People were leaving jobs left and right - without even having something else lined up. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 47 million people in the U.S. voluntarily quit their job in 2021 - a record high. Let’s talk about why that happened.
Looking for Connection
Forbes, McKinsey & Co. (2021) conducted research to answer that question. They found that the top reason people left their job (without another one) was “uncaring leaders”. Other reasons that employees left included unsustainable performance expectations, lack of career development, lack of meaningful work, and lack of support for their well-being. We’d argue these are all also ways to feel cared for at work.
However, this experience - the lack of feeling cared for - isn’t just at work. The United States Surgeon General released an advisory in May 2023 on “an epidemic of social isolation and loneliness” in the U.S. Dr. Vivek Murthy’s report cites that social isolation can cause an increased risk of heart anxiety and depression (which you might expect) and also increased risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, dementia, and diabetes. Physically and mentally, we as humans need to feel connected to each other.
When it comes to the workplace, caring relationships are associated with employee job satisfaction, creativity, competence, and better job performance. Quality social support, social integration, and regular communication among co-workers of all levels are key in preventing chronic work stress and workplace burnout. Workplace connectedness is also associated with enhanced individual innovation, engagement, and quality of work. I’m pretty sure these are elements that everyone would like to see improved at work.
Additional research from Forbes & Tracy Bowers in January 2023 found that for almost 70% of people, their manager has more impact on their mental health than their therapist or their doctor - and it’s equal to the impact of their partner. When it comes to connection in the workplace, managers have a huge influence. And when we look at workplace recommendations from Dr. Murthy’s report, two of the six are focused on training your employees around connection. But what does that look like?
Enter: The Connected Leadership Framework.
Campfire has built the Connected Leadership model to showcase the skills and behaviors most critical to fostering connection at work.
A connected leader creates an environment that allows employees to feel seen, heard, valued, and respected. Connected leaders also help employees feel they belong, can contribute to the overall success of the organization, and are supported in their development.
Managers are the single-most largest influencer on an employee’s experience. A report in January of 2023 from the Workforce Institute found for 69% of people, their manager has a greater influence on their mental health and well-being than their doctor or therapist. Even more shocking, a manager has an equal amount of influence on someone’s mental health as their partner or spouse.
Connected Leadership is based on the idea that there are three major pillars of leadership development: Self, Team, and Company. Inside each of these pillars, there are competencies that an individual can develop to increase their connection.
Read on to learn more about the nine major Connected Leadership skill areas and how each can connect your workplace.
Connected Leadership: Self
Companies with a strong focus on employee wellness are 3 times more likely to have higher levels of employee engagement and satisfaction.
One question to ask yourself or journal about wellness: “What does it look like when I’m at my best?”
Three ideas to strengthen wellness:
Schedule regular movement into your workday. Create micro-movement breaks on your calendar to get your body moving throughout the day.
Optimize your sleep hygiene. Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time, avoid screens before bed, and cut down on caffeine intake in the late afternoon/evening.
Find ways to de-stress during your workday. Take deep breaths when feeling overwhelmed, practice yoga or meditation, or have lunch outside.
Self-awareness enables leaders to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and how their actions impact others. Self-aware leaders make intentional decisions, effectively communicate, foster empathy, and promote diversity.
One question to ask yourself or journal about awareness: “What does it feel like to spend time with me?”
Three ideas to strengthen self-awareness:
Practice mindfulness. Make time to sit in silence and observe your thoughts, feelings, and emotions without judgment. This can help you gain greater insight into who you are and better understand how your internal world affects your external actions.
Keep a journal. Writing down your reflections each day can help you get in touch with your inner beliefs, values, and motivations. You can use this as a tool for self-reflection when trying to make decisions or take action on something important.
Seek feedback. Ask friends, family, or colleagues for honest feedback about yourself - both positive and negative - so that you can gain an outside perspective on who you are and how others perceive you.
When individual contributors transition into leadership roles, one of the largest changes is the shift from individual technical work to leading a team of people. They spend more time in meetings coaching team members than sitting at their desks completing tasks. No matter what role you’re in, finding ways to make progress is critical for all of us to feel fulfillment and achievement.
One question to ask yourself or journal about progress: “How might I get more things done?”
Three ideas to increase personal progress:
Establish a routine and stick to it. Setting a routine with specific tasks for each day can help increase personal productivity by providing structure and clarity to your daily activities.
Find your MIO (most important outcome). Every day, identify the one significant task that needs to be accomplished in order to make substantial progress and maximize productivity throughout the day. This allows for greater focus and ensures that the most impactful actions are prioritized and executed efficiently.
Plan your day according to your personal working rhythms. Take note of the time when you are most focused and able to engage in deep work, as well as the periods when your energy starts to decline. By understanding your own patterns and preferences, you can optimize your daily schedule to align with your natural rhythms and make the most out of your productive hours.
Connected Leadership: Team
Trust is the foundation of a strong and productive working team. Leaders foster a culture of trust in their team by empowering employees to make decisions, fostering open communication between team members, listening and responding to feedback from the team, and consistently demonstrating respect for each other's ideas.
One question to ask yourself or your team about trust: “When it comes to trust in our team, what is missing?”
Three ideas to increase trust on your team:
Check in regularly with each team member. Listen, value their input, and make sure they feel understood. Open communication builds trust and creates a safe space for sharing ideas and concerns.
Encourage collaboration and diverse perspectives. A supportive environment fosters trust, enabling effective teamwork towards shared goals.
Set clear expectations. When team members understand their roles and responsibilities, they feel more secure in their trust in each other. They know where the boundaries are and how they can safely interact with autonomy.
Managers need to be built-in coaches for their teams. The more that leaders coach inside the organization, the more empowered each team member becomes.
Coaching can be done through formal and informal activities, such as team meetings, one-on-one conversations and goal setting. It should focus on providing guidance to help team members develop their skills and reach their potential.
One question to ask yourself or your team about coaching: “What have you done recently that you’re really proud of?”
Three ideas to become a better coach:
Provide positive feedback. Coaching should not only focus on areas of improvement, but also celebrate successes with positive reinforcement and regular recognition of achievements.
Ask lots of questions. Try asking more questions than giving answers in your next 1-on-1 with a team member. When your team comes to you with a problem, consider asking them how you can best support them instead of jumping into solving mode.
Listen and reflect. As a leader, it is important to actively listen to the concerns of those you are coaching and make sure that each employee feels heard.
Leading a team is more about empowering others to achieve outcomes than simply making progress by yourself. When you’re focused on enabling the team’s collective success, each individual knows the team’s goals, and everyone is encouraged to move the needle on results.
One question to ask yourself or your team about outcomes: “What could I do to empower people on the team?”
Three ideas to strengthen team outcomes:
Develop clear goals and objectives. It is important for teams to have a set of specific, achievable goals to work towards. Painting a clear picture of success can help leaders clarify their own expectations, as well as build a sense of shared ownership and purpose among team members.
Prioritize collaboration. Working together to achieve goals is essential for any successful team, so it's important to create an environment where collaboration is encouraged and rewarded. Make sure each individual understands their role within the team but also knows how they can contribute to the group’s success.
Create space for team feedback. Besides giving constructive criticism, it can be helpful to ask for the team’s input on problem-solving and decision-making. This will help foster an atmosphere of accountability and trust within the group.
Connected Leadership: Company
More than ever, job seekers are looking for an organization where their values and beliefs align. Each manager is responsible for growing a culture inside of the team that reflects both the company’s values and the collective values of each individual inside the organization.
One question to ask about culture: “How does it feel to work here?”
Three ideas to connect your team to the culture:
Establish consistent opportunities to connect. Team members should have spaces to connect with senior leadership and other departments too. This can give the team insight into how the company operates, as well as provide them with an opportunity to learn more about their own impact on the organization's culture and success.
Create open dialogue. Use social media or online communication channels for sharing between teams and stakeholders. Facilitating conversations that are both meaningful and relevant will make it easier for teams to collaborate more effectively and build a better overall connection with the company's brand values and culture.
Create a virtual community space. Team members can collaborate and share stories about their involvement with the company and its culture. This could include opportunities for employees to post pictures or videos from company events, showcase their projects, or just chat with each other about different ideas, interests, and passions.
When employees connect with a company's mission, it brings a sense of direction, pride, and fulfillment to their work. This leads to higher job satisfaction, improved performance, and stronger employee retention. Finding purpose ignites our passion, fuels our drive, and transforms work into something truly meaningful.
Question to ask yourself about purpose in your workplace: “Why does the company exist?”
Three ideas to connect your team with the company’s purpose:
Bring purpose conversations into your 1-on-1s. Ask your team members why they feel connected to the company and how their role impacts the success of the organization. Tie each employee’s successes to the strategic initiatives of the company.
Create a team volunteer project. Align a project with the company's purpose. This initiative could involve organizing community cleanup events, collaborating with local schools to provide mentorship programs, and partnering with nonprofit organizations to support causes that resonate with our core values. By engaging in these meaningful activities, you’ll not only contribute to the betterment of our community but also strengthen company culture and foster a sense of purpose among team members.
Zoom out on the bigger picture. Have monthly team meetings to discuss the company's purpose and progress towards it. This could include conversations about what each individual is doing to contribute, sharing stories of how other teams have achieved success through teamwork, and encouraging creative solutions that can help achieve larger objectives.
Knowing company performance is important for employees because it can provide them with an understanding of how well their employer is doing and how that may affect their job satisfaction and security. It also helps employees make decisions about their own career paths, as they can assess the stability of the company and decide if they would like to stay with the organization or look for other opportunities. Having this information can help employees better prepare themselves for any potential changes.
Question to ask yourself about results: “How can I help others to understand company goals?”
Three ways to improve organizational results:
Get ideas and feedback from everyone. Before doing executive-level strategic planning, use this input! By engaging in this inclusive process, you can leverage diverse perspectives and tap into collective intelligence, resulting in more informed and effective strategic decisions.
Communicate, communicate. Create a well-structured and comprehensive communication plan that encompasses various channels and strategies. This plan will ensure effective and clear communication, enabling every employee to fully grasp and align with the goals, objectives, and vision of the organization. With regular openness and updates, the organization can cultivate a culture of understanding, collaboration, and shared purpose among its employees.
Implement transparent reporting and review processes. Employees should have an understanding of their employer's performance.Use technology to support real-time information and progress monitoring to share across all functions of the organization.
Train for Better Connection
Overall, the Campfire Connected Leadership framework has the potential to fundamentally change the way we think about leadership and relationships. By allowing leaders to cultivate genuine connections with themselves, their teams, and their organizations, this approach provides a much-needed opportunity to redefine how we work together.
Just as campfires connect us in the wilderness, the Campfire method connects us with our day-to-day working lives by creating meaningful connections through shared experiences. Now is the moment to build connected leaders and create lasting change for ourselves, our teams, and the entire organization.
If you're looking to improve connection for yourself and your organization - these nine areas can guide your focus. Campfire can support your leader training and coaching to build a connected culture. Meet with us to learn more.
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