2021 was the year of The Great Resignation. Everywhere you look there is a “for hire” sign. Businesses are scrambling for incentives to get people to join their team or retain their current employees. Nearly every leader is feeling the pressure of the so-called “war on talent”.
I recently saw someone refer to the Great Resignation as the Great Re-Evaluation. We’re all reconsidering why we do what we do and if it’s worth it.
While at first this can feel like another insurmountable obstacle looming ahead of us as we plan 2022, I actually believe this Great Resignation, Great Re-evaluation, or whatever you want to call it is actually an opportunity for you.
While other organizations are scrambling to provide flashy perks and enticing incentives, you can provide what employees are really looking for - an extraordinary culture that is marked by clear purpose and a healthy team.
Your greatest competitive advantage is building an extraordinary culture that people are clamoring to be a part of and resistant to leave.
Here are three things you can do to invest in your culture right now:
1. Reconnect them with your “why”.
Why do you do the work you do? What is the purpose? Who are you serving? How is it impacting them? What stories do you hear about the impact of your organization?
Under constant pressure it’s easy to lose sight of our purpose. Purpose is the core building block for every healthy team. If your team is blaise, disengaged, and unmotivated (and even if they are not), keeping your “why” in front of them is a key way that you can re-engage them.
Here’s the thing… you’re probably a little unconvinced that this will make a big difference. You might feel like a broken record because you’re talking about mission all the time or maybe you just assume everyone knows and understands the mission so it feels unnecessary to repeat it or emphasize it. Whichever argument you are inclined to, I urge you to trust me and try it.
A word of caution… one rousing speech about your mission is not going to radically change the energy of your team. But repeatedly reminding them of why you do what you do coupled with your belief in why it matters will influence them. When they see that you deeply believe it and that you’re committed to it, they will be inspired to follow.
2. Provide clarity wherever you can.
The challenge with leading through so much uncertainty is that we begin to think that everything is uncertain. Succumbing to this belief is dangerous for the morale of your team. When we don’t feel like we have clarity that enables us to control what we can, we fall into the mentality of a victim and lose our sense of agency.
While there is certainly a lot that is unknown and beyond our control, we need to fight for clarity. Clarity brings a sense of strength and comfort to our team. Clarity defines the boundaries. Clarity moves us to a proactive posture rather than a reactive posture. When we provide clarity we expand our capacity to handle ambiguity.
What exactly can you provide clarity about? Here are 3 areas you can focus on.
Your goals. What are you specifically trying to achieve? Yes, this feels like a moving target but you’ll never hit a goal you don’t set. Historic metrics and goals don’t tell the same story now. What was success in 2019 is likely not success in 2022. Don’t assume this is obvious. Clarify it and set expectations for how every team member can meaningfully contribute this year.
Each team member’s role. If responsibilities have shifted or changed because of the impact of the past two years, acknowledge it. Formalize it. Communicate it to the entire team so that team members aren’t making assumptions or having to play detective to figure out who does what now. Your org chart and position profiles are mission critical.
Your communication systems and processes. How your team communicates and meets together has likely shifted. You’ve probably been waiting to get back to a predictable routine and so you’ve left your meeting rhythms in limbo. Quit waiting for “normal”. Acknowledge whatever your circumstances are right now and clearly communicate a meeting structure and communication systems that foster the most effective interaction for your team.
3. Develop them.
Team members want to see a pathway for growth. They want to know that they are not going to get stuck or stagnant. The challenge for many small organizations is that we don’t have a lot of obvious pathways for promotion. While promotions that include a job title change may not be numerous in your organization, you can create a culture where employees can expect to grow, develop, and expand their skills.
There are effective and inexpensive ways that you can invest in the development of your team. Simple and consistent is the name of the game. In this article I give you 5 ways to inexpensively invest in your team.
2022 can be a year of growth, clarity, and purpose. We are cheering you on as you invest in your personal leadership and the culture and leadership of your team.
Keep leading well!
Jenni Catron and The 4Sight Group