In an age where workplace culture is one of the biggest motivational factors for employees, leadership should no longer follow a linear process whereby success is determined by reaching the end goal, and instead focus on the process which contributes to both the business and its employees achieving success.
For today’s employees, the workplace represents far more than a means to an end. It has become a beacon of professional growth, personal advancement and an exploration of who they are as individuals. In light of this, employees want leadership to look beyond their level of skill and instead become more in tune with who they are as people. To establish a meaningful career path for your employees, you as an employer should construct a plan which aligns and supports their personal and professional aspirations and goals.
Essentially, employers need to be more sensitive to what drives their employees, creating an environment whereby employees feel engaged and valued. This in turn will help leaders develop a more efficient business through increased levels of productivity, enabling every employee to reach their full potential.
At times, business can feel somewhat robotic as the core focus is placed on the output of an organisation as opposed to the input. Leaders often, albeit unintentionally, neglect the fact that employees want to feel like a valued and respected part of the business process, rather than a number or a small cog within a large machine.
Business, both in its external and internal capacity is about developing real human connections, demonstrating a genuine sense of compassion and sincerity in everything you do. Internally, employees want to be appreciated for their hard work and efforts, they want their employers to care about them as people, which means leaders need to be able to strike a balance between strict business thinking and the importance of the human-business dynamic.
Employees don’t expect to be hand-held through each day, but what they do require is a consistency in what is expected of them and how you would like them to achieve this. Furthermore, as engaged employees are more productive employees, try going beyond the role of a traditional leader by acting as a mentor to your employees, developing their confidence and knowledge. The simplicity of actually getting to know what drives your employees and makes them tick as individuals, will in turn, enable you to successfully achieve your businesses goals and objectives.
It is important as a leader to not get caught up in a hierarchical structure, where what position you hold dictates the level of involvement in the day to day running of the business. Employees want a leader who places themselves on an equal level to their employees, who is not afraid to integrate themselves into the team and participate in all activities.
Modern leaders should be transparent in what they do, if they make a mistake own up to it, never look towards others to attribute blame. At the end of the day, no one is infallible and being honest, even in times when this is hard, makes leaders more relatable and approachable to their employees. Employees want to feel that they can trust their leaders. If a leader is willing to push their job title aside and truly support their employees, then when it comes down to it, those employees will stand by their leader and give the extra effort needed.
As a society we are a melting pot of diversity. This is what makes the UK such a great place to live and do business in. To some degree, we all strive to demonstrate our own authenticity and in return appreciate those who embrace their differences, understanding the value they bring to the table.
Leaders too, should embrace differences, understanding how to manage and utilise differences within a sensitive manner to help propel their businesses forward, assembling a talented team of individuals who each bring a unique point of view and set of skills to the business mix. Be mindful, however that when embracing differences you also look to find a common denominator that links employees together, whether that is a passion for the business or the desire to grow and develop in line with the company.