Avery, Alex, & Ash: A cautionary tale
Many people felt compelled to declutter their living spaces between feeling trapped during the "safe at home" orders and the need to make room for work and learning spaces.
Then we saw a surge in divorces as people looked at their 24/7 home-life and realized that their relationship with their partner no longer sparked joy.
Next social and political tensions grew, causing people to remove themselves from social media platforms or trim their friends to escape the negativity.
Now businesses are returning to in-person operations, leading employees to re-evaluate their joy equation at work and sparking the Great Resignation.
To understand what sparks joy at work, you need to understand the three avatars personifying the varying levels of commitment and engagement at work.
ACTIVE AVERY feels tremendous pride and ownership at work. They have the opportunity to do what they do best daily. They feel heard, appreciated, and regularly receive affirmation of their value as a contributor. A strong, positive connection exists between the organization's purpose and values and their own.
APATHETIC ALEX is dependable and gets the job done but isn't passionate about their work and contribution. They rarely feel energized by their work and do not see the value of doing more than minimally required. They see their relationship with their employer as transactional and never intend to stay too long in a job or company.
ABSENT ASH is checked out, a warm body filling a spot on an organization chart. They resent their treatment at work and feel completely disconnected from the company's purpose. Their needs are not met at work, causing them to act out in ways that undermine the commitment of others. They announce their unhappiness loudly and often, seeking company in their misery.
Depending on the makeup of your workforce, the Great Resignation could be the nudge you've needed to embrace the wisdom of Good To Great (Jim Collins, 2000) and focus on getting the right people on the bus.
Identifying the Absent Ashs and encouraging their departure is essential to prevent a few rotten apples from spoiling the whole barrel. Active Averys don't want to carry dead weight. They want to be surrounded by coworkers who share their commitment and pride. They also don't respect leaders who tolerate Absent Ash behavior.
In other words, if you want to not only keep your Active Averys, but attract more of them, continuing to accept "warm bodies" is not an option.
Next, assess your operating norms to ensure you are meeting the four basic needs for a highly engaged workforce.
Third, revise your talent acquisition strategy to take advantage of the influx of career changers. According to a recent article on hrexchangenetwork.com, "A relaxation around an emphasis on previous work experience coupled with creative approaches to talent development is leading to employers finding a great amount of talent that they weren't seeing previously due to preconceived rules the company had around expectations and qualifications."
Connection is the key to sparking joy in every part of life. Now more than ever, you must have a people strategy that focuses on employee engagement. By focusing energy on cultivating the right environment for Active Averys, you are guaranteed to get the best out of every person, even if they only stay for two years. And, your reputation boost will make it easier to replace vacancies with more Active Averys.
If you need some help assessing and building your culture, let's chat. DM me or use this link to hop on my calendar.
5 Tips to Keep Remote Workers Connected
Before the pandemic, most businesses adopted an operating preference for face-to-face engagement. On rare occasions when someone joined a meeting remotely, they were typically forgotten and marginalized during conversations.
Safe-at-home practices to combat the spread of COVID-19 catapulted our adoption of remote work technology. Not only did we learn to connect effectively, but most businesses also reported an increase in productivity. The combination of necessity and existing relationships made this transition seamless.
Offices are reopening, and employers are hiring, bringing a new set of challenges for hybrid workplaces. Rather than slip back into our pre-pandemic ineffectiveness, here are five essential practices to keep remote workers integrated and connected with their in-person teams.
Proximity effect is the idea from social psychology that physical and/or psychological closeness increases interpersonal liking and attraction. When workers share an office space, they have physical proximity, which facilitates collegiality. Thus, it is vital to generate psychological closeness amongst teammates by adopting intentional practices to deepen trust and interpersonal relationships.
Gallup's employee engagement survey includes several questions focused on feeling recognized and valued. Beyond job performance, it is essential to know the person and care about who they are and what matters to them. Regular and consistent feedback, acknowledgment, and listening communicate authentic seeing, caring, and valuing.
No one wants to be the redheaded stepchild. It requires focused effort to give equal consideration to everyone on the team regardless of their location. Structure and facilitate meetings so that everyone has the same participation opportunity. And avoid defaulting to those who share physical proximity.
Throw out all of your paint-by-numbers management tools. To inspire and engage, you need to know each individual and modify to match their needs. Replace one-size-fits-all prizes and praises with genuine appreciation that fully leverages the strengths of each team member. Get curious and invite generative dialogue that grows mutual understanding and respect.
Can't take the crew to lunch or gather in the conference room for a celebration—no problem. In The Power of Moments (2017), the authors share how to craft positive, memorable moments using four elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. To engender true engagement and connection, employees need to experience these types of moments, which spark intrinsic motivation and fuel positive self-esteem.
To learn more about the challenges of hybrid teams, check out this recent article I published on LinkedIn.
If you'd like help crafting your new leadership approach, hop on my schedule for a free coaching conversation.