The Business Case for being a great Employer - the How To guide Part Three

In the last blog, we talked about the need to redesign work to allow greater autonomy and flexibility around how, where and when work is done today (see the results of the ILM survey below on this point). This week, in Part 3 of our ongoing series, we’ll look at the impact that a more human culture and positive relationships can have on your business.

Business life, especially corporate life, can be brutal. With its (often too high a) focus on delivering shareholder value, putting the inanimate object called the company above yourself and your colleagues is the norm and the expectation. Even the best SME leaders can fall foul of doing this when the hoo-hah hits the fan.

Humans are naturally social creatures and this lack of a human side is turning us away from work and destroying UK productivity (shockingly, only Italy is below us in the G7 productivity league. The average French worker (yes - the French!) produces more by the end of Thursday than their UK counterpart can in a full week). If we get the culture right, instead of spending time and energy overcoming the problems driven by negative relationships, we can focus on the opportunities. And there are plenty of them. Here are a few things to start thinking about in your journey to becoming a great employer:

1. Accept and celebrate differences. Let’s face it. We’re all different and we see the world in many ways. Add to that that our mood and attitude to work and life can change from day-to-day. Including yours. Wouldn’t life be easier if everyone liked like we do and saw our point of view all the time? Wouldn’t it be dull though. Encourage and be thankful that we are different. Look for those right-brained thinking – the more creative, conceptual side of your employees that doesn’t see life in straight lines. Value their input. It might seem strange, or just plain wrong, but it could be the difference you’re looking for. Accepting and celebrating that we are all different is a great starting point.

2. Listen effectively. Active listening is a crucial skill in making your team feel supported and valued.  It shows that you are genuinely interested in understanding what the other person is saying and thinking. It’s the basis of respect for each other as human beings.

3. Give people your time. Giving time to people is a huge gift. We are all trying to fit in more than one lifetime and don’t always have enough time for our family, friends, employees and colleagues.
Being present in the time you give to people is vital, and devoting time and effort to developing and building relationships is one of the most valuable life skills.

4. Develop your communication skills. Far too often, we work on the assumption that the other person has understood the message we are trying to get across. Start from the position that that they know nothing and see what happens. Honest straightforward communication has a positive effect on morale when it works well and motivates individuals to want to come into work and do a great job.

5. Learn to give and take feedback. Feedback may not always taste great, but it can be very good for you. Providing regular constructive feedback to others helps forge open and positive beneficial relationships. Give it, and take it, as free information. You can choose whether you want to take it on board or not but often it helps to tap into a blind spot and gives a different perspective.

6. Learn to trust more. Trust is hugely important in any relationship. Maybe the most important thing. You can’t demand trust, like you can’t demand respect; it’s a choice. Build trust by being good at what you do, doing what you say you were going to do, taking care of your employees and always, always wanting the best for them.

7. Develop empathy. Remember. People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Empathy builds connection between people. It means reading your employees’ thoughts and feelings and interpreting them by offering support and developing mutual trust. For some it’s a natural thing. For other, it takes careful practice.
Every relationship we have teaches us something, and by building positive relationships with your employees, they will be happier and more fulfilled, and feel more supported, supportive, and connected.

Next blog we’ll talk about valuing diversity and inclusivity. See you then.