The definition of leadership is changing. With increasing challenges from a pandemic that has lasted over a year and the remote work that such a pandemic has brought, business leaders have to change the way they create culture and inspire engagement. A recent Deloitte study found that employee engagement and culture issues are becoming more prominent this year. In fact, these issues are the number one challenge worldwide. Eighty-seven percent of respondents in the Deloitte study believe that the issue of culture and engagement is “important,” with fifty percent citing the problem as “very important.” That number is double that of last year’s survey result. The study also found that sixty-six percent of HR respondents identified that they are updating engagement and retention strategies to meet this changing environment’s needs.
This view was also supported by a recent Harvard Business Review article that discussed how a LinkedIn survey identified that employees in today’s workforce have higher expectations of their employers that extend beyond the paycheck. The survey found that sixty-five percent of people would prefer lower pay and foregoing a fancy title (26%) than to have to deal with a bad workplace environment.
These changes lead us into a new workplace dynamic that requires more actionable behaviors from leaders. In the past, leaders may have talked about the value of culture and engagement, but their actions did not always match their words. It’s easy to say, “Yes, our employees are valuable,” but in the next breath, tell an employee that they are doing a poor job without providing direction for how to resolve the situation. This disconnect is what causes rifts in a leader’s credibility, and with current trends, it’s not an option. Leaders have need more than ever to show employees with their actions that they are committed to changing the paradigm.
The number one way for leaders to build trust and authenticity in the workplace is by making sure that actionable events match their words. Leaders who can put actions behind words show their team members that they are committed to building relationships and a more reliable workplace. If the words you say are, “We want a positive and affirming culture,” then you need to put into place actionable events that support such a statement. Making this affirmation as a leader, but then disregarding an employee’s frustration causes a fracture because the words of your message do not match your actions. These fractures cause a break in trust and authenticity. Actionable events that do not match commitments or words draw individuals away from the team or business placing them in a state of uncertainty. This is a step backward into distrust and frustration. This leadership behavior also creates a rift in the relationship so that individuals begin to feel disconnected from the leader who does not place value on these actionable events.
Imagine, instead, a team where the leader implements actionable events that support his/her words. A team with this type of leader would develop behaviors that support one another and allow for a focus towards work instead of underlying worry over disconnected actions. This dynamic does not mean that you can’t discuss the struggles an employee has with a work situation. The goal of leadership with actionable behaviors is to keep moving forward. A helpful tool for leaders wanting to support actionable events that engage is to put timelines on activities, so that commitments can be measured as completed or revised, as necessary. Just as the program management of a project works more effectively with this behavior, so does the culture and engagement of your company or organization.
Leaders who make actionable events a part of the culture and engagement process find that employees can better focus on their work. There is also a greater sense of continuity when individuals put their actions at the forefront. Leadership then becomes the actionable events that make up the day and bind the team together. How are you leading right now? What actionable events have you implemented successfully for your team?