Words and languages are powerful tools. And conversations are so instinctive that we don’t pause to contemplate their inherent power. A conversation in its own way is more complex that we credit it for. It reveals realities, ways of being and seeing, assigning meaning to what we see. All of these things are important when we look at them in the context of happiness and well-being at the workplace.
Having spoken to quite a few leaders across businesses in India and abroad, here are a few tips that leaders follow to keep the team happy and productive:
Intentional weekly conversations with direct reports
I heard this from one direct report of how the leader spent the designated time with her each week to understand her concerns and appreciate work and life in general over a cup of coffee! She said she looks forward to this time each week where she brings her whole person into the conversation and knows she is not going to be judged.
Empathetic conversations in difficult times
One leader spoke of a time when some members in the organisation were being laid off and there was a general spirit of negativity. He held conversations with each of them. It took them some time to get out of the negative spiral. “I was respectful to them, heard their worries and concerns, and gave them a sense of confidence to move on…..there is life beyond the organisation....you will find something to focus on.” They found new jobs. These conversations helped them move on. Some of those people are still in touch with him.
This leader knew exactly who she was and what she wanted to do, with utmost clarity. This tacit knowledge gave her the freedom to say NO to things she did not want to do; clearing out space and energy in herself to do what she was meant to do. She made the choice of working two days a week to an initiative that would make a difference to the organisation. “I like creative work and that's why I chose to work for only 2 days. I was asked if I could handle Operations & I said NO. I also said NO to project implementation as it would be full time and routine. I like creating business plans! Being honest to the job irrespective of money, commitment and delivering on time are what I stand for.” The question she sometimes asks of herself is if she is utilising her potential to the fullest and for the right purpose!
Making clear expectations
One of the leaders shared that he makes his expectations clear on the role of his team members. This goes a long way to monitor and supervise the role holders. They, in turn, feel responsible and accountable for their deliverables.
Keeping the flow of communication
From one of the conversations, I gathered that the leader communicates whatever his team needs to know – changes in the organisation, policy changes, leadership change and any other shift, the idea being that the information should come from him and not from anyone else! This way, trust is built in the team.
We all know at an intuitive level that human connection and communication is vital to any organisation’s growth and success. How many of us are willing to go the extra mile to know the person behind the role? This requires time, effort and, most importantly, intention. In cultures where the task holds more credence than the person doing it, there is a chance of missing out on the value the employee can offer to the organisation. Understanding the context of the person and helping him perform to his highest potential is the job of a nourishing leader.