You’ve been at this for a while. You know that happy, engaged employees are essential to the growth of your firm. And you know this is cyclical: driven team members drive growth, growth drives motivation, motivation feeds happiness. Keeping this wheel turning is harder than it sounds, though. After all, your team members are not cogs but human beings—and human beings have complex needs.
Think of your firm as a community. Communities are at their best when everyone has a voice. In work as in life, you give people voice by engaging them in conversation. Call it a performance check in if you want but think of it as a targeted chat. In doing so, you address the main reason these sorts of assessments fail: fear. When people sense a social threat, they clam up. Avoid this by turning the tables; encourage your team members to ask you for feedback and engage their request in a conversational tone. Putting employees in charge of their performance evaluations provides a sense of control that soothes the fear mechanism and encourages personal agency.
If you succeed in getting your team to regularly approach you wanting to check in about their work, you’re winning. Don’t blow it by getting caught up in metrics and ledgers. Rather than harping on results, focus on effort, learning, and growth. Again: think of your firm as a community. People want to feel cared for. Part of. Showing an investment in a person’s continued learning and acknowledging their effort keeps them happy. If the culture of your firm nurtures wellbeing and growth, employees will catch their own mistakes and come to see them as opportunities to improve.
Community and belonging are at the top of the list of basic human needs, preceded only by oxygen. Trust me. I’ve got the list and it’s gold. Each of the aforementioned strategies will help foster community at your firm. Take this a step further by inspiring a sense of ownership in your employees, thereby cultivating belonging. The key here is less telling and more asking. When engaging a team member in a performance check in, spur insight by crafting questions that prompt the employee to reflect on their own goals. Thus, your firm’s performance objectives become personal and a sense of belonging is instilled.
Even as organizations become increasingly data-driven and technology-focused, quality conversation continues to be the best method for boosting employee engagement and wellbeing.
Remember to keep your conversations empowering, motivating and loyalty-inspiring by following these 4 steps:
• Think of your firm as a community
• Encourage employees to seek feedback autonomously
• Forget ledgers and focus on education, empowerment and growth
• Rather than telling, ask questions that spur reflection
For more information about how to implement productive communication strategies at your firm, consider downloading the following free White Paper: The 8 Keys to an Empowering Conversation. After all, your firm is only as good as your employees and your employees are only as good as your communication skills!