Connecting with employees is vital for the health of your business. To recognise this, consider the difference between dissonant and resonant leadership - a dissonant leader is strong, tough, and authoritarian, while a resonant leader focuses more on inspiring and nurturing. Which do you think is the better leader? Who's getting the best results?
It's time to think about how you are engaging with your employees. Take a look at our list of six things great businesses do to connect with employees and see if there is anything you could apply to your business.
Democratise decision making
Who makes the decisions in your organisation? Are these major calls taken exclusively by the man or woman at the top of the pile, or perhaps by a board or committee of high ranking executives? Alternatively, you may decide to delegate decision making to specific department heads.
If you rely upon hierarchical decision-making structures, you could be missing out on a real opportunity to connect with your employees. Not only this, but you could find yourself missing out on the channels of innovation and strategy that come from a more flexible approach to decision making.
Demonstrate to your team that their voice can and will be heard. Show these teams the ways in which they can put forward suggestions and vote upon key organisational matters. Gaining a different perspective in this way dramatically boosts engagement. It can give your organisation access to a wider array of ideas and concepts.
Create a culture of safety
Some people thrive under pressure or in a combative environment, but these people are in the minority. To support true engagement, at a profound level right across your organisation, you need to foster a culture of safety and well-being.
Don't listen to what you might have heard: business is not a world of dog eat dog, sink or swim, or any other cliched turn of phrase you'd care to mention. Business is instead about communication, an ongoing process of learning, and seeking out opportunities for mutual growth. Develop this within your own organisation by making it clear to your employees that their opinions matter and that their rights of expression will be defended. Take a zero tolerance stance on bullying, exclusion, or silencing between team members, and give engagement the chance to flourish.
Destroy the obstacles to information
If knowledge is power then a lack of knowledge can, similarly, be considered a lack of power. And, the gatekeepers of this storage of data can be considered to be the king- and queen-makers, watching over everything.
Patience is wearing thin regarding this issue in 2018. Employees have quite simply had enough of being precluded from the data and information they need. To really engage, and to really connect, you need to remove all obstacles and barriers to information, do away with the gatekeepers who bar access, and ensure the free flow of data around your organisation.
Recognise the importance of failure
In the world of business, we are geared toward avoiding failure at all costs. Success, success, and more success - these are the only things we are permitted to deal in. Of course, this is wise - we don't start a business with the intention of failing, after all. But it's only wise to an extent. Imagine a world in which failure was banished - what would it look like? It would look like a world of inertia and inactivity; literally, nothing would get done.
Instead, business owners need to embrace failure. They need to make it clear to their employees that it's ok to try new things and to take risks, even if these ultimately result in failure. Without failures of this kind, there can be no change and no forward motion, which means no real success.
Great businesses who connect with their employees live and breathe communication
It's one thing to be told something, but it's another thing to see it in action. If your company is committed to espousing the virtues of connection and communication across all tiers of the organisation, then you need to demonstrate this in your own action and through your own deeds.
As a business owner, it's critical not to isolate yourself from your team members. There can be no fluidity of communication or information flow if you yourself are inaccessible. Business owners need to make themselves visible, and they need to actively reach out to team members to set the ball of connection and engagement rolling.
Our offices and our workplaces are still organised along the age old lines of communication, with the flow of information moving downwards rather than upwards. As a result, your teams may feel uncomfortable reaching out to you in this way. It's up to you to bring about the right cultural change within the office.
Have the right tools in place for modern connection and engagement
Many of the methods we've looked at with regard to fostering connection and engagement with your team members are cultural. This is undoubtedly important, as a solid workplace culture goes a long way towards achieving the results you want for your organisation. However, this sort of culture and ethos still needs to be underpinned by something.
At the heart of engagement is communication, and the fundamentals of communication are very simple - both parties must be willing and able to listen to each other's ideas. Face to face, this is not so difficult to achieve, but the modern business is a large and dynamic organisation with remote teams operating side by side - how can we support connection and engagement in this kind of environment?
By putting the right tools in place. Modern businesses have a wealth of different communication tools - ranging from digital conference rooms, through to screen sharing technology and live broadcast capability - to draw upon. There is no excuse for business owners to miss this startling opportunity.
Want to learn more about the things great businesses do to connect with their employees? Discover how Express Virtual Meetings can help you foster a connected business environment.