Recently I was meeting up with a business contact who was in his early 30s. He’s a great young man who’s been in his rapidly growing and cool technology company for around six months as an individual contributor.
The company, with a population of mainly 20-35 year-olds, has wonderful modern office space, allows for some virtual work, promotes unlimited time off and wonderful healthcare programs, and even sponsors lunch each day. But when I asked my friend, “How’s it going?” he replied, “It’s amazing how miserable people are here.”
I followed up with the logical question of “Why?” and he stated two themes: The first was that the vast majority of people felt overwhelmed with the volume of work being placed on them. And the second was that they felt unappreciated by their manager.
In my last blog, I highlighted that companies with happy employees outperform the competition by over 20%. So to the situation above, even when you as an organization provide some of the greatest perks and benefits possible, that doesn’t trump wellbeing and life balance from an employee perspective.
I subscribe to the notion that employees typically desire to work hard and produce great outcomes since they want to feel pride in their work. But there’s a breaking point, however defined in each employee’s mind, of being overwhelmed — that feeling of the workload infringing on one’s life balance outside of work.
People go where they feel wanted but stay where they feel valued.
When the scale tilts towards overload of work, it gets magnified immensely when the employee feels unappreciated at the same time by his/her manager. This is all about manager engagement, or lack thereof. On that note, here are a few ideas on the issue of leadership engagement that should help alleviate the feeling of under-appreciation, and also the matter of work overload.
- First and foremost, have quality conversations with team members on a regular basis. This isn’t at all to suggest micromanagement, but rather healthy conversations on a steady cadence.
- In these discussions, work with your employee to identify what success looks like in their role. Also, how does their personal success yield success for your department, and the company in general? I call this connect-the-dot actions and behaviors.
- Get to truly know each employee: Their commute time to work, family dynamic and the like so you can best gauge work capacity and feel closer to your staff. Now granted, in every role at every organization there is a lot of work to be done. But as a manager you can’t lead blindly while not understanding the DNA of your team.
- Identify and execute ways to acknowledge good work and positive outcomes. Movie and restaurant gift certificates, or perhaps an afternoon off, all fit the bill. But candidly I found the following works even better (and I challenge you to assess when you’ve done this lately). I like to just send a simple email to members of my staff on some Friday afternoons, thanking them for the contributions and effort made during the week — wishing them a wonderful weekend, and expressing that I look forward to seeing them back on Monday. Simple, effective recognition…and it works!!! Trust me.
Here at LocatorX we recognize that as a young, growing company we have a lot to accomplish. Early in our existence we embraced that we will work hard, but that we’ll never compromise the lives of our employees. We respect that everyone has a life outside of our business, and we want each team member to thrive both inside and outside the company. We have regular one-on-ones and company-wide update discussions, ensuring that every person has a voice, and that their voices are being listened to and respected.
It’s all about our mission to build a fantastic organization that each member wakes up every day feeling proud to be a part of.
If this blog resonates with you, I invite you to reach out to us to provide your personal introduction. LocatorX is still growing, and we’d love to hear from you!