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Management & Leadership

What leadership skills are required to sustain employees today?

eye 33 Published on 23 Mar. 2022
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The world today, as we know it, is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA); and this will continue to create opportunities and challenges in the years to come. Leaders of organisations will have to take "make or break" decisions more often than not. While uncertainties are a given, the drastic resignation of employees is causing concern to many organisations.

McKinsey study

This study highlights that employees are no longer leaving for just better opportunities, but for reasons that are taking more predominance than new opportunities, like, being valued by organisations and leaders, and having a sense of belonging. 
Leaders who do not value their employees and invest in their development will continue to drive employees from one company to another. The current "new normal" requires organisations to have leaders that inspire, motivate, and lead with compassion. In this article, we will look at the top 3 leadership skills that can act as catalysts to employee retention.

Lead by being Empathetic 

To lead by compassion is to be able to understand your employees and listen to them. No, it’s not the one-on-ones that are scheduled to discuss an employee’s performance or ask "how are you doing?" for the sake of it. It is also not listening to employees to reply or respond to them, but listening to understand. It is to invest your time in truly finding out and understanding what the employees are feeling. For example, an employee may not be performing well because they need more resources, or due to personal reasons, or simply because they are not clear on what is expected of them. Therefore, take time to understand and respect the reasons in order to facilitate solutions that are possible in the leadership capacity. This not only builds trust among teams but also gives room to share open feedback, thoughts, and ideas among them.

Lead by being Supportive

A great deal of how employees feel about their job is influenced by their leaders. Happy employees are known to stay longer in organisations. But with the hybrid model in place, it is important to support employees, whether they are working from home or office, in an equal manner. Take initiatives that help your employees feel belonged. For example, allow employees working from home to log off after work hours just as an employee that works from the office gets to log off. When having virtual meetings, allow employees at the office to join from their own laptops, just like how employees working from home do, or ensure that if those in the office are joining together, the group doesn’t break into chit-chat and laughter. Leaders should not wait until a red flag on the difference in treatment between employees working from home and the office is raised to start looking at solutions. Take a step further and create opportunities where team members can meet in person and ask them their inputs on, what can be done better, what resources are they lacking, is there any way in which you can facilitate training for them to improve their abilities etc. This allows you to be supportive of their career journey and in turn influence them to be better leaders of tomorrow.

Lead by being Future-Oriented

Evaluating the situations and looking into the future to not just see how to improve transactional factors but also relational factors is essential. Encourage teams to craft their jobs in a way that they find meaning, over and above the job descriptions provided by the organisation. Recognise and appreciate work well done or behaviour well demonstrated, however often that might be. Remember that employees are no longer waiting for that one annual meeting where they are rewarded and recognised. An appreciative sentence sent on chat makes a difference. Discern red flags even before they can arise. As a leader, understand employees, influence and support them, take note of commonly occurring feedback, and take actions that address these issues.

To conclude, the skills that made leaders effective before the pandemic, like coaching, mentoring, performance management, etc. are just table stakes. It has become essential to lead oneself and one’s teams with purpose and thought. Go beyond responding to crises, and be positive change agents!
 

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