It seems like work should be back to normal by now, but everyone keeps saying it’s not as fun as it was before the pandemic. People seem less friendly and more impatient. And, what’s scary for managers is that employees are less engaged and are more willing to quit if they are even the slightest bit dissatisfied. The bad news is that it has gotten even worse over the last six months.
According to a recent poll by the Conference Board, nearly a third of workers reported they are less engaged than six months ago—and it’s not necessarily due to remote work. It has more to do with wanting a caring, empathetic leader and feeling connected to the corporate mission and purpose. They also want flexibility and hybrid arrangements seem to be the most desirable for the majority of employees.
What does all this mean for managers? How can they reengage their employees? How can they show their employees they care about them? How can they feel connected to a larger purpose? How do managers make time to do all this while still making sure the work gets done?
Managing a team has become more about nurturing people than overseeing projects. It requires a great deal of human interaction. The focus is more on motivating, gaining buy-in, and supporting employees to achieve their work and less on directing, monitoring, and telling people how to do things. The “manager as coach” model is very effective.
Three ways to become a more caring, empathetic manager.
- Clear your plate so you can devote time to your employees.
Most managers say they don’t have enough time to give attention to their employees. But that is simply not true. If you make spending time with your employees your top priority, it will happen. What that means is you may not have time to get other work done. And that is okay. This is your opportunity to let go of unimportant tasks, to delegate more, and to push back to upper management and take on less or reassign the work to other teams. If you make your people your number one priority, your team will likely achieve more anyway.
- Work through your demons so you can show up as your best self.
Employees hate having a “bad boss”—when their manager won’t settle for less than perfection, when they criticize every little thing, when they insist on making all decisions, when they obsess over everything that can possibly go wrong, and when they do anything their boss says at the detriment to the team. These are all examples of a manager’s inner critics causing them to behave in a less than ideal way—perfectionism, a high need for control, hyper vigilance, and over eagerness to please. There are many methods to reduce your own inner critics, ranging from coaching to therapy, as well as meditation. My favorite is the Positive Intelligence program because it doesn’t take much time, you can integrate it into your day, and it produces immediate results.
- Develop your employees for their next role, in addition for their current one.
Employees crave personal development, and they are already looking at what their next step might be. If you prepare them for that next step, you will be showing your employee you care, you will increase their level of skills which could be useful in their current role, and you will incite loyalty. Loyalty tends to keep employees around longer and engaged at a higher level. When they do move on, they will likely tell others that you are a great manager and this is an effective way to attract good employees to your team.
To learn more about becoming a more caring, empathic leader, download one of our free resources.
- If you would like to assess your own leadership skills, download our free leadership self-assessment.
- If you’d like to learn tips for dealing with emotional situations with your employments, download our free emotions tips sheet.