The economic climate means businesses are continuing to be forced to do more with less, and individual productivity provides the key to this. Jo Ellen Gryzb, founding director of Impact Factory, explains.
Prior to the economic crisis, people had a role to play in an organisation, and they fulfilled their role as laid out in their job description, as well as perhaps a bit more if they had their eyes set on promotion. There were more hours in the day, there was less pressure to meet increasing targets, and perhaps most importantly, less fear about job security.
But those were the good old days, and are now nothing but a distant memory. The working landscape has transformed beyond all recognition and pressure is at an all time high. Many organisations have seen multiple redundancies, dwindling profits and there is now increased pressure to perform better than competitors to survive.
Leaders and managers have to approach their role with caution in today’s conditions. They have to understand that the people reporting to them feel wobbly and insecure about their performance and job security, and are likely to be demoralised as a result of dwindling financial rewards.
Communication is key in these scenarios. People are the finest asset any organisation will ever have, they drive it forward and are the glue that holds it together. As a result, they need to be communicated with and listened to. They will hold knowledge and have hunches, especially if they are customer facing, which should be fed into management processes and reacted upon.
They shouldn’t be kept in the dark. If strategic management meetings and whispered huddles are happening all around them, they will feel excluded and undervalued. Regular briefings and chats to both present and glean information on the business’ performance and operations can be invaluable.
Undoubtedly, managers and leaders will be applying pressure on their teams to increase output and performance, and expand their skill set rapidly. The key to doing this successfully is to place the individual at the centre of the process, first of all assessing exactly what makes them tick, which tasks they enjoy and excel at, and then working outwards to the business needs.
It is important not to see workers as needing to be ‘fixed’ and moulded to the business. Where training is concerned, if people’s strengths and preferences are considered and played to within the training, they will be happy and engaged, and the new or renewed skill set can then be aligned to the business needs.
It’s also important to be clear about what the expected outcomes of the training are before implementing it. Training that is procured simply as a tick box exercise is not only a waste of resource, it devalues the positive impact that good training can have by de-motivating those being trained, instilling in them a sense that training is a waste of time.
People are motivated by feeling understood, and if they are motivated their enthusiasm and commitment to their employer will be reinvigorated. If enthusiasm and motivation is strong they can be tasked with doing all kinds of roles – it’s the leader’s approach which needs to be right.
A happy workplace is one in which the employees feel valued, involved and communicated with, and these approaches make for a happy workplace. A happy workplace is an incredibly productive one, with everyone pulling in the same direction to achieve business objectives.
There are many leaders and managers who still approach their role with an old school ‘rule by fear’ method, and refuse to develop their ‘soft’ skills, instead focusing on strategies and delegating, but these are not leaders who will achieve harmony and cooperation. We are working in a brave new world, and those who don’t adapt and change will find they are left behind.