Until recently, things have been running smoothly. Each of your employees is competent. Work is getting done. Progress on initiatives is being made. And yet, you feel that there is something wrong. Morale, including yours, has been suffering. You know you are at risk of losing some of your best employees.
You have so much on your plate that you can barely escape your office. You have hardly spoken to your employees. You know you need a way to get others involved in the work you have been handling. In addition, you need a strategy for reorganizing the department’s work to ensure your best and brightest are challenged and that all of your employees feel they are getting more from their work than just a paycheck. What do you do?
Balancing the Workload
Ask your employees for their suggestions on streamlining work and improving effectiveness. Look at your workload and see if you can either redefine the process, give whole projects to one of your employees or break the project into meaningful chunks and form a team to manage the project together. Be sure you pave the way for sharing this work so that they understand your motivation is to help them grow rather than feeling you are dumping your work on them. Confirm that you have a grasp on what each employee is working on and what their workload is, so you don’t overload individual employees. Carefully balancing individual and teamwork and developing a collaborative work environment, will help build the cohesiveness of your team and ensure that work continues if you do lose a member of the project team.
Understanding the Assets of Your Workforce
Take stock of your employees’ strengths and interests. Some of this information may be found in past performance appraisals but much of what you want to know comes from the employees themselves. One way to learn this is to create a survey, formal or informal, to ask employees what they would like to be working on, either as an open-ended question, or by providing a few projects and asking them where they see themselves fitting in. Take a page from the Google playbook and give employees the time to work on a project that is outside of their normal scope of responsibility. Giving employees the opportunity to grow by working on a project they have chosen and that also contributes to the organization’s success will increase their level of engagement. It also helps them feel their work has meaning.
Creating a Culture of Appreciation and Communication
Once you have the workload balanced and assigned, look at other ways to improve morale. One great way is through employee recognition. When one of your employees has a great idea or solves a long-standing problem, or one of your project teams crosses a major milestone, be sure to celebrate their achievements not just by praising them but by sharing their accomplishments with your entire team. It will both encourage those individuals and motivate other employees to strive for excellence.
Establish open lines of communication. Resolve to have your door open as often as possible and to make the time to get out and check in with your employees. Whenever possible, give your employees a voice in the direction of your department. Keep them apprised of department and organizational developments. Involve them in brainstorming alternative approaches. This allows them to tap into their creativity which, studies have shown, is an essential factor for employee job satisfaction. Being open to suggestions will go a long way toward increasing employees’ perception that they are valued.
Providing More Opportunities for Growth
Push decision making downward. Employees value responsibility but need the authority to go with it to feel truly valued.
By fostering an environment of authority for the employees, opportunity for them to express their creativity, and derive meaning from their work, as well as encouraging teamwork, and keeping communication lines open, you will greatly increase the chances that employees will be motivated to stay with your department and contribute to the best of their abilities.
For help with evaluating your organization effectiveness, succession planning, identifying training opportunities, or rewarding employees, contact Koff & Associates. We are organizational development experts.