With more and more people working remotely, the days of attracting and retaining talent based on your snack selection, ping-pong table, and weekly happy hour is over. So what do employees want in this new climate? The answer is, freedom: to work from home and live where they want instead of where the office is.
The result of this freedom is that managers will no longer see direct reports in person five days a week. They will have a mix of hybrid and remote direct reports. That means it's time to throw away those antiquated and ineffective in-person management tricks. In order to attract and retain top talent, companies need to differentiate themselves by having effective managers.
Let me walk you through how effective managers put their direct reports first:
Transparency & Trust
At the core of any healthy relationship is transparency based on trust. Managers should have strong, personal values and practice what they preach. The best way to practice these values are:
- Keep your direct reports in mind with every decision — major and minor — that affects the relationship. The most important decisions that impact a direct report's relationship with the company are centered around compensation, promotions, and termination. There needs to be a “why” around these decisions.
- Be timely in providing answers. Don’t ignore a question and hope that the person forgets. They won’t.
- Create, at the least, a weekly cadence of communication.
- Share the good and bad with your team. Be vulnerable.
Transparency and trust take constant work in order to function authentically.
Now, let’s talk about how to create engaging and motivating experiences for your direct reports:
The key to creating an engaging experience is to agree on what "engagement" means. You can’t just say the word and expect it to happen. Engagement is what drives sustained team performance. This is at the core of productivity. Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall provide the best work on the topic in their book, “Nine Lies About Work.” They identify eight aspects of sustained team performance, broken into two groups:
"We experiences": a person’s experience with others on the team that are shared with the company. Examples:
- I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company.
- In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values.
- My teammates have my back.
- I have great confidence in my company’s future.
"Me experiences": individual experiences at work. Examples:
- At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me.
- I have the chance to use my strengths every day at work.
- I know I will be recognized for excellent work.
- In my work, I am always challenged to grow.
You, the manager, are expected to guide everything in Group 2. Let's focus on how:
You own half the responsibility of engaging the direct report and all the responsibility of motivating them. There are two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Daniel Pink wrote an excellent book on motivation called, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.” You can listen to the Ted talk. Extrinsic motivation is driven by external forces such as money or praise. Intrinsic motivation is something that comes from within and can be as simple as the joy one feels after accomplishing a challenging task. Let’s review how you impact both:
Money was once thought to be the best way to motivate a direct report. If you wanted them to stay with your company or to perform better, you simply had to offer financial incentives. However, the issue of money as a motivator has become moot. High performers can find another job that will pay them more money in a month, no matter what’s happening in the economy. Pink puts it succinctly:
Of course, the starting point for any discussion of motivation in the workplace is a simple fact of life: People have to earn a living. Salary, some benefits, a few perks are what I call “baseline rewards.” If someone’s baseline rewards aren’t adequate or equitable, her focus will be on the unfairness of her situation and the anxiety of her circumstances. You’ll get neither the predictability of extrinsic motivation nor the weirdness of intrinsic motivation. You’ll get very little motivation at all. The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table.
From the time we are born, humans crave validation about the progress they are making. A kid will constantly say, “Mom look at me!” This desire continues through our professional lives. It is a baseline requirement for people to have their work validated.
Your job is to make sure these baseline needs are being met. If they are not, it will dominate the relationship in a negative way.
The extrinsic motivators need to be in place before you can practice intrinsic motivators. Once they are, Daniel Pink describes how to build an intrinsically motivated team. You need to focus on three key factors:
1. Purpose: Why do they work?
2. Mastery: The desire to improve. It’s a growth mindset focused on strengths.
3. Autonomy: The need to direct your own life and work.
The only way to provide these is to listen to and understand the individual who is your direct report. It is not a one size fits all approach. Don’t make any assumptions about them as a person. Their work needs to align with the three key factors listed above.
To get started here are ways you can practice intrinsic motivation:
Develop the role
- You control projects and their body of work for the current job
- Training, learning, coaching, etc.
Develop their network
- Make introductions and find people who can help them achieve their goals
Develop next steps
- Identifying and overcoming new challenges and finding new roles to move into
Now that we have discussed how to create transparency and trust as well as deliver engaging and motivating experiences, let’s talk about why you should care. Here is the reality:
- When productivity (which requires engagement) is high you can do more with less while scaling, which is mandatory to survival.
- This philosophy becomes your brand and helps you to attract top talent. If you can't compete on salary and mission, you want to be known as the manager who cares and develops their direct reports.
- When engagement is high it helps with recruiting because all your employees will tell their friends, creating a hiring buzz. Top talent will then become available.
- You need retention (motivated people don’t quit) to be high because you can’t afford to be backfilling while scaling. The world is too small and if good people leave, this will send up a red flag to other top talent who are thinking about working for you.
Redjay is on a mission to make managers more effective with less work. If you are interested, sign up for the beta.