“It used to be presumed that if you weren’t at your desk working, you weren’t working, but we said ‘Why can’t we make a workplace where casual meetings are as important as working at your desk?’ Sometimes that’s where your better creative work happens.” — David Chipperfield
The days of command and control leadership are gone. So are the days of slaving away in a factory for your entire life until retirement. The Millennial generation finds the old way of doing business stifling. Employees are becoming more agile and connected than ever; they want flexibility and autonomy. So, how do you get the results you need to be successful in this new work environment?
As a leader, you must keep a finger on the pulse of your work environment. The best way to do this is actual, first person observation. Not observation from some corner office, but out on the floor, in the middle of operations observation. When you are out on the floor you get to know your employees, their wants, and their needs. When you really know what’s going on, you can make the needed adjustments to keep things running smoothly.
Gone are the days of employees being satisfied with only being provided the information that management deems pertinent to their particular tasks. This generation has grown up being bombarded with information; they want access to all to the data and then to be allowed to sort through it on their own. Start sharing the ‘big picture’ information. Where is the company going? How is it going to get there? What is the market like? What kind of changes can they expect to see? The more informed your employees are the better contribution they can make.
There is no better way to learn what is working, what is not, what people want, what people need, and what people know than by asking. You may actually be surprised at the new knowledge you may gain and the new opportunities that might be brought to your attention if only you were to ask the right questions. I’m not talking about closed door meetings with trusted advisors. Again, I’m talking about out on the floor, employees at every level questioning.
If you ask the question and you get an answer, you better make sure you follow up. Lack of follow up sends the message that you have no respect for the needs, wants, or input of your employees. More than ever, it’s important that your employees know they are being heard. When you not only ask the questions, but truly listen to the answers and then follow up, employees will learn to trust you. And, they only really follow those they trust.
A rigid work environment is no longer appealing. Why do you care? Because unless you provide an appealing work environment you will lose your best talent and be unable to attract the caliber of talent needed to compete with organizations where flexibility is embraced. This doesn’t mean you need to allow employees to run helter-skelter; it just means that you allow them to make adjustments so that their work and personal lives can become more integrated.
It’s a New Environment
It’s a new work environment. What worked in the past will not attract and keep good employees in the future. The way you lead is going to have to change. Become observant. Start sharing information. Ask questions. Make sure you follow up. And, learn to be flexible.
This new workforce has a lot to offer. Make sure that you provide the right environment so they are offering it to you and not your competition.
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