The Role of Leadership in Shaping a Lasting Employee Experience
From recruitment to the end of an employee’s tenure, the manager-employee relationship is the most important for driving engagement. From conversations with fellow leaders to reviewing data like turnover rates and exit interview responses, leaders can get insights into the areas where they need to improve their employee experience.
Create a Culture of Accountability
Employees can be held accountable for these expectations if they clearly understand the organization’s objectives and performance indicators. In addition to impeding collaboration, this robs workers of their sense of purpose and belonging at work, two essential elements of an overall employee experience.
Leaders who create a culture of accountability do so by clarifying what they expect from their team members regarding quality and performance. They also communicate how their actions and behaviors affect the results of those expectations. This level of transparency builds trust between team members and increases engagement and productivity.
Accountable leaders take full responsibility for any incidents or failed metrics. They avoid blaming the team and encourage employees to openly discuss obstacles or challenges that impact their ability to achieve desired results. They also ensure their team knows they’ll support them through the process.
To help their teams build a culture of accountability, leaders can institute shadow boards to encourage non-executive employees to communicate regularly with senior leadership about the company’s strategies and decisions. They can also set up opportunities for employees to give feedback on one another’s performance and encourage a healthy dose of constructive criticism. When people can talk freely about any challenges they face at work, they’re more likely to rise to those challenges and overcome them in a way that benefits everyone.
Accountability is recognizing that the success of others and the organization depends on your actions. It’s also about accepting the consequences of those actions—both good and bad. It’s a core aspect of teamwork that is essential for building trust and engagement. When leadership doesn’t promote accountability, it weakens the quality of work and erodes relationships among employees. When employees don’t believe there are real repercussions for poor performance and behavior, they become more likely to forget their responsibilities.
To foster accountability, leaders must create a culture that supports and encourages it. They do this by establishing clear and consistent expectations for performance. They also ensure everyone understands how their contributions align with the company’s goals and mission. It is often done through a team charter, a performance matrix, or a professional code of conduct. Some teams also create a peer review system, reinforcing accountability’s importance.
Too many managers attempt to enforce accountability by micromanaging, focusing on the wrong metrics, requiring cumbersome documentation, and executing premature rescues (stepping in before the employee can offer or try a different course of action). These actions are counterproductive and drive employees to resist accountability. Instead, leaders must nurture a culture that fosters accountability through clear goals and outcomes, the right mindset and behaviors, and ongoing coaching and support for their people.
Create a Culture of Empowerment
The most fundamental element of a culture that supports empowerment is the ability to make decisions. Leaders must create a culture where people are empowered to take risks and find creative solutions for the company’s critical success factors. It can be done by delegating authority, providing training and development opportunities, allowing employees to choose their work methods, providing regular feedback and performance evaluations, and rewarding employees for their contributions.
When leaders can trust and empower their teams, they can focus on the big picture. The freedom to experiment, innovate, and make decisions helps employees align with the organization’s goals. It also promotes an environment of accountability, as everyone is responsible for achieving key objectives. It can be daunting for some organizations, but the rewards are significant.
A culture that empowers employees can bring out the best in them, resulting in elevated productivity and a higher quality of life at work. However, when not implemented correctly, it can lead to a fear-based culture that constrains results and causes people to feel disconnected from the organization. It can also lead to a blame-based culture, where people feel like they are at the mercy of others.
One of the most essential things leaders must do when creating an empowerment culture is to create a transparent environment. Employees should feel safe to express their honest opinions, even negative ones.
Create a Culture of Collaboration
In a collaboration-oriented culture, employees are encouraged to reach for expertise and insight across department lines. It can be done through joint team projects, cross-functional focus groups, and company chat rooms built around common objectives.
To foster a collaborative culture, leaders must be willing to participate. They must also encourage employees to document and share their knowledge, processes, and best practices. They should make sure the tools to do so are easy to use and accessible. Lastly, leadership must be committed to a collaborative culture by practicing it daily. For instance, discussing collaboration as a value and not promoting and rewarding teams who collaborate well is not practical.
Employees notice when organizations like to tout collaboration as a valued behavior but must put the collaborative framework into practice. They also notice when leadership pays lip service to collaborating but acts like a lone wolf. It can undermine the collaborative culture that is being created. To create an authentic collaboration culture, leaders must make it ingrained in how they do business daily and set clear expectations that teamwork is expected at all levels of the organization. Then, they must monitor and enforce this cultural expectation. It can be a time-consuming process that is best led by senior leaders who can set an example for their teams and managers.