Leaders: Hedge your Motivation Position Now!

The Great Resignation, Silent Quitting, Disengaged Employees- Why?

Motivation might have become the rarest commodity for employers, hence the Great Resignation, Silent Quitting, and disengaging employees. This is probably the first time in our lifetime to remain in one collective trauma after the other for almost three years and counting. Many have lost loved ones in the process and others ended up with lasting health effects from COVID. And a good majority is feeling less financially secure with growing inflation worries. Also, almost every industry is experiencing some major disruptive transformations: Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), energy transitions, climate change, digital transformation, supply chain crisis, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), to name a few!

The motivation crisis may be bigger than the energy crisis, the environmental crisis, or the supply chain crisis. Because only when we have motivation are we able to address these crises. And some crises may actually be caused by the lack of employee motivation. Amidst all these disruptive challenges, many employees seem to be losing their motivation to stay employed or at least do their best. But this problem is not without a solution. It takes authentic engaging leaders.

What does authentic and engaging leadership look like?

You may also be struggling with your own motivation as a leader. And you probably know that you and your organization are not alone in this search for passion, excitement, and motivation. So how can you get some of that motivation back while we’re all still in the middle of the storm? It’s your opportunity to flex your leadership, stakeholder engagement, and change management muscles in new ways. Here we share some tricks that worked for our clients and their teams.

  • Purpose. Ensure the clarity of your true purpose behind doing what you’re doing and how it aligns with your employees’ values. This will take a methodological approach to communicate and explain this purpose across the different layers in your organization.
  • Vulnerability and Authenticity. Show up as an equally struggling human being that doesn’t have all the answers despite being at the top of some ladder. Also, don’t shy away from sharing some of your own unpleasant personal experiences and how they make you feel.
  • Empathy. Take (rather than fake) genuine interest in how your people feel, what they’re going through, and how you can all help each other. It’s becoming more and more difficult for people to follow leaders who seem like they don’t care about them.
  • Professional Help. Seek and offer to your people help in the form of  peer-to-peer mentoring and coaching, as well as therapy, counselling, and coaching support from independent professional services.
  • Learning. Acknowledge that none of you has ever gone through a similar experience in the past and raise the bar for learning and development within your organization, starting with yourself. Set the examples in acquiring new skills and capabilities for a new normal.
  • Challenge. Redesign organizational structures and roles in ways that challenge every employee to take responsibility for mitigating newly emerging risks and taking advantage of new opportunities. Take the time to match people with work that excites them and helps realize your vision and strategic goals.
  • Accountability. Hold yourself and your most senior leaders accountable for meeting your own goals before you hold your employees accountable. Ensure that the general perception within your organization is that reward is directly tied to performance.
  • Comradery. It’s not about who’s at the top anymore and unless people feel you are in this together it will be almost impossible to keep them motivated. Have fun with your people and encourage two way communication. If you want them to be motivated by your messages and actions, start by allowing them to motivate you!

How about you? What are you doing to keep yourself, your team and/or organization motivated?

Photo by PhotoMIX Company: https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-sitting-behind-counter-under-television-518244/

The Resignation is GREAT, but are your strategies great enough?

Like many business leaders, many of my executive coaching clients are concerned about their ability to stay afloat, let alone grow in the face of the increasing risk of employee attrition. We can claim that this post-COVID19 phenomenon has caught us by surprise. But we will soon be out of excuses. The global trauma that we all been going through remains a wake-up call for many. And many of your employees may very well wake up to the fact that they do not want to be working for you!

However, it seems that many leaders are still handling the Great Resignation in a reactive manner that falls short of addressing the tectonic shift that it is. Working through this situation with several of the executives I coach, I have become familiar with the temporal nature of this challenge. Therefore, different strategic options emerge different time frames. Below I offer a framework for a more proactive approach for handling the retention challenge.

Immediate: the Departing Employee Matters

The fact that there is a mass exodus from the workforce, some of which without immediate reentry, can just be a symptom for bigger issues. Also, your leavers my continue to be good resources for you. Therefore, consider the following:

  • Take the exit interviews seriously. Beyond being an HR formality, they are an opportunity to learn about challenges to talent retention in your organization. They will be helpful for reducing your attrition rates.
  • Avoid burning bridges with the departing employees. They are important future human resources for you. Your brand as an employee and a business will benefit from their word of mouth. Also, you may be able to establish contract arrangements with some of them to help with easing off the workload and sustaining your operations while you figure out longer term solutions. And, you may stand a chance of attracting your top talent back!

Short-term: Beware of Similar Decisions in the Making

Your exit interviews will provide you with a foundation for understanding the attrition risks you could be facing. Next, I recommend that you engage managers and employees, establishing partnerships to address some basic questions?

  • Who’s next? Who else may be having similar concerns to the leavers and, thereby, contemplating similar decisions?
  • Do you want to retain them? What can you do to retain them?
  • What are the morale and workload implications on those who may be happily choosing to stay with you?
  • What are some creative resource solutions to rationalize the workload?

Medium-term: Work Ethics Matter More Now

Another phenomenon that is emerging is that some employers may now be rushing to refill the open positions so fast that they forget to check on the candidates’ work ethics. In less drastic cases, they may sacrifice the cultural fit. What my clients have learned is that they may loose more time through the damage that a misaligned employee may cause. Eventually, they will have delayed their recruitment of  ‘suitable’ candidates by the few months it takes to recruit, hire, and fire the wrong candidates.

Long-term: Time for Leaders to Play Catch Up

The world has moved on from the “because I said so” leadership style and it’s time for leaders to play catch up. The Great Resignation is here to teach us a few leadership lessons. Leaders now are constantly being challenged to sell the idea of employment to their employees- let alone the idea of working for their organizations and each of them in person. This is probably the subject line for another blog. But what we know for sure is that two sets of long-term strategies must be in question now by most organizations:

  • Talent acquisition, development, and retention strategies
  • Leadership selection and development strategies as well as the key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success and keep leaders accountable

And, finally let’s keep in mind that “human” resources require authentic and compassionate human leadership that values them and prioritizes their fulfillment and growth!

Whether you’ve been directly affected by the Great Resignation or not, its disruption of workforce dynamics will affect every organization and its leadership. To discuss what it means and how to be more proactive about it, contact us to schedule your free strategy development consultation.


Diversity and Inclusion as an Enabler for Great Leadership

On this International Women’s Day, let’s talk about empowering leaders not women because they need strong and diverse partnership now more than any gender ever needed help

It’s time to shift the global mindset around women issues. Regardless of the roles they play in families, communities, businesses, and/or governments, it has become crystal clear that women can be astonishingly resourceful, insightful, and powerful. Even in the most disadvantaged or traditional communities, matriarchs have been known to have transformational impacts on their tribes including the most mature and strongest male leaders. Organizations and communities that deprive themselves of real contribution from women could be depriving themselves of not only opportunities to grow but also their chances of survival. It’s like turning off half of your brain or one side of your body and expecting to compete with those who bring their whole bodies or brains to every situation.

Historically, many of us come from communities that held matriarch leaders in high regards. But, we’re having to fight some long battles in modern times to secure seats around the table as women leaders. Now more than ever, new and different risks and opportunities are facing community, business, and state leadership everyday. This diversity in challenges and opportunities requires diversity in thought and approaches. Yet in many circumstances we find ourselves having to justify the need for inclusive leadership. And we still address women issues from the point of view of solving problems for women and empowering them. Effective and successful leaders understand that they are not going to be able to conceptualize and realize grand visions just by surrounding themselves with people that look, think, and interact like them. They look to empower themselves with improving diversity and inclusion (D&I) at the top levels.

“A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.” Nelson Mandela

As eloquently put by Nelson Mandela, great leaders seek diversity in thought and get excited about engaging in debate and growing collectively in the process. They understand that by inviting differences in opinion, approach, and human interaction style they will be able to expand their opportunities and mitigate their risks more and more creatively. The opportunity costs of homogeneity in leadership can be very high and many of us have observed them first hand. I believe that improving gender diversity and inclusion will require a mindset shift around the way we approach leadership development and assessment. Realizing our full leadership potential going forward is going to mostly hinge on a leader’s ability to leverage D&I as an enabler for their own growth and success rather than an objective in and of itself.

Starting with vision, we have long entered a world where leaders are differentiated by their ability to develop and realize visions that go beyond their individual imagination or the imagination of those with similar backgrounds. A key question for leaders to consider is: to what extent have women and other diverse groups with different backgrounds influenced your vision?

When it comes to strategy, regardless of whether a leader is be empowered by D&I or not, their competitors, vendors, and clients probably are. Leaders would benefit from continuously asking themselves if they are at least at par with their competitors and vendors in terms of the diversity of expertise they attract and truly leverage. Another important question is about the extent to which members of leadership teams represent current and potential market niches. Much money is being left on the table by leaders that refuse to build leadership teams that match the diversity of their clients and competitors.

And of course the importance of communication to successful leadership cannot be overstated. Effective communication takes listening to what’s not being said in addition to what’s being said, which can be very challenging. Another challenge is getting your message across as a leader in ways that motivate an increasingly diverse workforce and attract an increasingly diverse client and investor base. In today’s complex world, it’s practically impossible for a homogenous leadership team to master communication without the contribution of leaders whose genders, backgrounds and experiences prepare them to communicate differently.

I’m sure much of what I shared here is not shocking. But what’s shocking is the fact that we still talk about helping women much more than we talk about helping leaders and organizations through attracting more insightful, powerful, and resourceful women.