Strategy season is when organizations review their results and plan for the future. It usually involves answering some or all of the following questions.
- Where are we now and why?
- What is our unique competitive advantage?
- Where do we want to be 1/3/5 years from now and why?
- What is the best way to get there?
- How will we measure our progress and success?
- Who will take us there?
- How will we ensure they are ready and able to execute and excel?
Those last two questions are arguably the most important and the most often overlooked. Your people will make or break your strategic plan. Further, the people who packed up their laptops in March of 2020 to work from home (or, for some, live at work) are not the same people that have “returned.” They have changed.
Some are clearer about their values and priorities, and they expect greater flexibility and autonomy. Others are exhausted, depressed and/or anxious, and they need empathy. Many are eager and excited to be back in the office, and they need direction. While some bring new expectations for corporate citizenship, social justice, and inclusion, and they need change. And, a few were not working at all, and they need reassurance and training.
Re-boarding Your PEOPLE
Like onboarding for new employees, re-boarding refers to actions, programs and approaches specifically implemented to help employees reconnect with work on four distinct levels. All four levels of connection are vital for employee productivity and retention.
Job connection is achieved when people get to use their natural strengths in doing their work and when they have the tools and training to excel. Re-boarding activities that help employees reconnect to their jobs might include the following:
- Update job descriptions and key performance indicators to reflect alignment with new organizational goals and objectives.
- Talk with employees about performance expectations and career aspirations. Tech platforms like 15Five can help you be more intentional and effective at performance management across your organization.
- Create development goals and plans.
Leader connection is achieved when employees feel known, safe, challenged, and valued. Consider the following actions for reconnecting with employees:
- Spend time getting reacquainted with your employees. Seek to understand their world, their experience, and their perspective on the future.
- Listen and say, “What else?” or “How so?” Don’t rush to solve or provide input.
- Empathize by saying “That sounds really frustrating,” or “I can see why that was difficult for you.”
- After gaining a solid sense of the employee’s experience, share what is going on in your world, what has been hard and what gives you hope.
- Ask “How might…?” questions that leverage employees’ strengths and/or allay employees’ fears. For example, “How might delegation help you focus on higher level priorities?” Or “How might we adjust our meeting schedule until you’re able to get the kids settled back at school?”
Team connection is achieved when people are clear about goals and roles, and when they feel a genuine sense of belonging. Re-boarding activities that foster team connection are as follows:
- Clarify team goals and create a line of sight to broader business objectives. The Predictive Index’s Team Discovery tool can create this kind of alignment between teams and their work.
- Engage the team in identifying tactics for execution and ideas for improving teamwork and collaboration. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team assessment and workshop can produce new insights and action.
- Prioritize time in team meetings for sharing and connecting as well as discussing progress and problems. An example of a fun meeting starter is, “If you came with a warning label, what would it be?” A more serious starter would be, “Share something you have persevered through or a lesson learned during the pandemic.”
- Explore the diversity on your team and celebrate people’s unique strengths and perspectives. For example, leverage people data like The Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment™ to understand personality diversity or engage in an unconscious bias workshop to spark new awareness and build trust. Structural is a best-in-class tool for creating a dynamic internal people directory that spotlights individual talents that can be leveraged across decentralized organizations.
Culture connection is achieved when people are intellectually aligned and emotionally inspired by the mission/vision/values of the organization.
- Share your mission/vision/values frequently and recognize people who display behaviors that personify your core values.
- Survey employees to understand their experience at work. Then, share the results and be transparent about what actions will and will not be taken to create a more effective work environment.
- Review organizational policies and structures to ensure alignment with your intentional culture.
As you enter strategy season, center your employees in your plans and be deliberate about re-boarding to reconnect to their jobs, their leaders, their teams and to the culture of the organization. These four levels of connection work together to foster resilience, productivity, and engagement over the long term.
Contact us today if you would like to talk about leadership development, The Predictive Index®, 15Five or Structural as resources for re-boarding.
For more from Heather Haas, read her previous article, “Re-imagining how (and when) we work”.
To dig further into returning to the workplace and the emotional intelligence leaders need to find success, read this recent article by Leadership Consultant Kye Hawkins.