Being a “smart communicator” and an “employee-first advocate” is about making your organisation more successful, more competitive and more resilient in a tough environment. Here’s why your employees matter just as much as your customers…
How did you feel about work when you woke up this morning? Dreading it and trying to gauge whether that sore throat is enough to warrant a ‘duvet day’?
Not pleased about having to get up but pretty much OK with it? Perfectly happy to pick up where you left off yesterday and, in fact, actually looking forward to getting into the office, seeing your workplace friends and getting to grips with all that today will throw at you?
Put like this, it’s easy enough to see the link between employee happiness and engagement and how it drives motivation, performance and productivity – and the fact that ‘productivity’ is about much more than simply being grateful for having a job or the pay packet you receive at the end of the month.
In many respects, if you want your organisation to be a success you need to recognise that, yes, it is about ‘delighting’ your customers, but it is also about treating your employees with the same care and attention as you would your clients.
But don’t just take our word for it. Research from the University of Warwick has concluded happiness can lead to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers can be as much as 10% less productive. As the research team put it: ‘We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings.’
And a study by technology firm Oracle has argued that nearly two thirds of employers (65%) accept employee engagement leads for better collaboration at work, with similarly high percentages agreeing there is a link between engagement and better business performance and customer service (61% and 60% respectively).
So, what drives employee happiness, and how as a manager and a leader can you capture and channel this more effectively?
Here are some core things Mr Smart Communicator did to treat employees like they were his most valuable customers:
He changed himself
Mr Smart Communicator went on development courses to understand his own management style better, how to listen, how to hold and manage conversations, how to ‘read’ body language and how to become more emotionally intelligent and ‘authentic’ as a manager and leader.
He changed his language
A key element of ‘smart’ communication is using language that is more open and inclusive, which encourages dialogue and is focused on improvement and development.
He created a framework for people to follow a specific set of behaviours
Using focus groups and training sessions, he spent time with his managers exploring what it was that got in the way of them doing what they knew, intellectually, was the right thing to do to enhance not just the experience of their customers but the experience and day-to-day working environment of the team.
He also communicated much more clearly the standards and behaviours he expected both of his team and of himself.
He focused on effective decision-making, delegation, and inclusion
He held workshops to gauge the extent to which his team felt genuinely felt empowered to do ‘the right thing’ for customer, how decisions got made, how work was delegated work, how performance conversations were held (or why they were overlooked), and how the team really engaged and interacted, both internally and with customers.
Employee forums, feedback tools and staff surveys were put in place to encourage more listening and dialogue, with teams encouraged to come up with ideas that they felt would be valued and improve engagement.
An employee recognition scheme was put in place. He recommended to Miss Sharp that a new reward, incentives and benefits package be implemented.
He made the working environment a more fun place to be
This included volunteering and community activities, staff team-building and away-days and social and team-bonding activities.
With the encouragement of the staff forums, he even managed to persuade Miss Sharp to agree that a budget be allocated to these activities.
He looked at a better way of managing performance
A clear sense of progression, promotion and recognition can keep performers of all levels and ability engaged and productive.
Within this, good performance management structures and processes – including a performance conversationalist approach – will certainly help. If employees feel frustrated at a lack of prospects, it stands to reason they’re going to be less happy and perhaps begin to look at opportunities elsewhere.