Why growth can feel like downsizing and 5 ways to shore up employee engagement.
Online orders are stacking up, phones are ringing, and profits are rolling in. Your company is growing!
This is EXACTLY what you’d hoped for!
So, why are some people so down?
At least you’re not downsizing. Well, Growth IS good. More customers, more profits, and more employment opportunities. Yet, for some, it CAN feel like downsizing.
In organizations that have downsized you’ll often hear things like:
- “I just don’t know anyone around here anymore”.
- (Co-workers and friends have been let go or left).
- My boss is never around anymore.
- (They’re in meetings and picking up the extra work left behind)
- This just isn’t the same place it used to be.
- (Some of the routines they enjoyed the most are no longer practiced).
I’ve been there. Maybe you have too. You’re thinking it can’t possibly feel the same as that.
But when you’re growing fast:
- New employees join the team, existing ones move into new roles. Staff might think:
- “Man, I hardly know anyone around here anymore”.
- Managers are in meetings, interviews, carrying extra work. Staff might be thinking:
- “My boss is never around anymore”.
- Old traditions like pot luck lunches or even team meetings fall by the way side. Staff think:
- ‘You know, this just isn’t the same place it used to be”.
What are we supposed to do, not grow? Before you start thinking they have changed, consider this:
1/ They haven’t changed – the job has. 2/ These are the same people that helped you generate the growth you’re enjoying now. You want them back. You want them to re-engage.
Here are 5 practical, easy things you can do, to help people reconnect with the good vibe they once had and the one you’re groovin on now.
1/ Introduce your new employees around.
When a new employee joins your team, make sure you introduce them to your existing employees. Many companies have ‘New Employee Orientation’ programs that tell new employees about the business, but that doesn’t guarantee they’ll meet existing employees.
When I joined Crystal Decisions Customer Care team they had a tradition called Rookie Cookies. Newbies had to bake fresh cookies for everyone. People would come by to meet you and have a cookie, but if you weren’t there, they wouldn’t take the cookie!
2/ Be Around!
Any great Change Leader will tell you that whether you’re growing, changing, or downsizing, the best leaders in the world, are available. You don’t have to micromanage, you don’t have to drop everything you’re doing, but don’t become an absentee leader. They want you around, that’s a good thing. See Gallup’s Q-12, ‘My manager or someone at work seems to care about me and my development’.
Schedule a weekly team meeting and be there – don’t cancel. Or have a daily huddle just like 1-800 Got Junk does – it only takes 10 minutes – you have 10 minutes! And yes, they’re growing!
Have quick one on one check-ins with people, or schedule time to just walk around. Be there.
3/ Give them something to hold onto.
Remember Charlie Brown’s friend Linus? Linus was the smart kid that always had his blanket with him. What does Linus do though, when his blanket is in the dryer? Change experts tell us to give people something to ‘hold onto’ during times of change – something familiar. The Rookie Cookies ritual from Crystal Decisions was a great example. Maybe it’s the potluck you held once a month. Maybe you used to say good morning to everyone when you arrived, or people actually took breaks? If you’re not sure, ask! “What’s one thing you (miss, care about, are proud of) the most?” and hold onto it.
4/ Involve people in the growth
Get existing employees involved in some of the changes. Assign one existing employee as a mentor for each new employee – a buddy system. Now ‘they know people around here’ and the new employee has someone to help guide them. Create a small work team to problem solve, create new processes or fix broken ones. If you can’t hold onto a ritual, get employees to co-create a new one. Get them involved.
5/ Say “Thank you”.
Recognize employees for their efforts. Say thank you for staying the course. Provide positive feedback for things they’re doing well. For more ideas check out this e-book on Encouraging Employee Engagement from PaySavvy. My mom used to tell me ‘new friends silver, old friend gold’ – let your employees know you think of them as gold.
6/ Ode to the Leader – It can be hard as a leader. Everything seems to fall onto your shoulders. You’re working extra hours too, you don’t know everyone around here either, and maybe you’re not seeing much of your boss – I know. Now there’s some blogger blogging on you! If you’ve ever wondered ‘what about me’ no one would blame you. The front-line leaders role is one of the most challenging there is in any organization. So here’s a few parting thoughts.
- Take a moment to reflect on all the things you’ve accomplished – the difference you’re making.
- Think of someone at work that you like, you’re glad they’re there – and take time to see them.
- Ask for help – where is your boss? She’d want to know if you need help. How about colleagues? Everywhere people are looking for ways to help – including your employees. Maybe they can create the agenda or run the meeting. Ask others to think of accomplishments, give positive feedback, maybe even some for you. Ask your boss, what’s one thing you like that I’m doing?
Know that you make a difference. Never doubt this.