During my career in the public service, I’ve had the chance to work with directors who all had their different styles. Some were strong visionaries, others had great coaching styles; some were better at self-direction; and so on.
However, I noticed one thing all great leaders had in common and it’s probably more simple than you think, yet it can make a world of difference for employees and, ultimately, the organization. That one thing is communication!
Having open communication with employees leads to transparency and promotes a culture of candour. Obviously not all information can be shared at large and employees understand that, but being open and transparent is more than that. People are looking for a workplace where they feel included and accounted for.
The great thing with transparency is that it can be achieved by changing just a few things, but it will lead to so many benefits.
Studies have shown that by being more transparent, leaders create a better sense of teamwork, problems are solved more easily, and trust levels are increased, which will ultimately lead to better employee performance. People want to work for people. They are looking for their leaders to be more human regardless of the hierarchy. This is a new way of doing things that we can’t ignore anymore.
This is especially true of Millennials who want to feel part of a community and see how they contribute to the bigger picture. They don’t want to be a small cog in a big machine, but rather want to be in the loop of what is going on, what is affecting them, and where the organization is going.
Most departments and teams already have formal communications tools in place like team meetings, corporate emails, and now social media to inform employees. But to help transparency, a few simple actions can make a big difference in an employee’s perception. I will leave you with two that should not take much time to implement:
1. Send an email every Friday afternoon to all employees summarizing the week that has past as well as what is to come for the team. It does not have to be long and can even be a few bullet points highlighting what employees should know. For example, letting them know that a new colleague will be joining the team starting Monday, sharing with them that someone got a promotion or that the competition everyone was waiting for will be open in the coming month. By doing this simple action, you are making sure that all employees receive the same information even if they were away on vacation or simply missed a meeting. Everyone will feel included and you will reduce the rumour mill that can easily get started.
2. Take time to talk to employees informally. We’re all very busy with our day-to-day schedules and running between meetings, but stopping by an employee’s desk on the way to lunch or taking a few minutes to say hello to someone in a corridor can have a huge impact for them. These informal interactions will not only allow you to really get to know your employees, but also help identify potential problems before they become too serious. It can also become a motivational tool, as people will not only feel complimented that the boss took the time to interact with them, but also be more inclined to reach-out and get involved in the future. This way they know that the door is open if they need to share something and you will be more prone to receive honest feedback.
As mentioned, open communication is often the first step to a healthy and engaging workplace. Senior leaders can help create that environment and I’m hoping that these few tips can become part of your New Year’s resolution as they can really have a positive impact for employees. Trust me…I’m a Millennial.