When an employee has a hard time at work, chances are that speaking with their manager isn’t exactly the first thing that crosses their mind.
Melanie Curtin, a columnist at Inc., however, stepped out of her comfort zone and did it. After experiencing a difficult week at a new position, she’d chosen to call her manager and share her concerns.
In her article at Inc. where Curtin shared this experience, she wrote that the manager was super respectful and listened closely, which was incredibly motivating and calming for her. The conversation ended with Melanie saying, “Thank you ... I feel heard.”
Then she went and performed beautifully even despite the fact that she was doubting her abilities, like, 9 hours ago.
This difference-making experience is something that almost every employee can relate to. In fact, Curtin supported her claim by citing a recent survey that found that people were 4.6 times more likely “to feel empowered to perform to the best of their abilities.”
This goes to show how a difference for every employee can make even more difference on the scale of a company.
If you’d like to achieve a similar effect, then collecting employee feedback and getting good at talent conversations are without a doubt your best bet.
Here’s how they work to strengthen your company.
Employee Feedback: Empowerment Fosters Positive Company Culture
To truly boost employee performance, an employer must make them feel respected, valued, and understood. This, however, is impossible when one doesn’t take time to actually understand them and stop assuming that every person working for them wishes to be treated in a similar manner.
In turn, developing a good understanding of employees’ motivations, fears, concerns, ideas, and performance, one needs to listen to them. The result is very much worth it: as reported by the above-mentioned survey, people want to perform to the best of their abilities if they feel like they’re heard.
That’s something that every company can benefit from, but there’s a big problem.
Many companies don’t listen to employees, or they simply don’t speak up. Choosing not to share their thoughts with managers is a decision not made out of fear. In most cases, the employees don’t feel like their supervisors will even bother with making changes based on their feedback.
That’s why a collection of employee feedback (both anonymous and open) on a regular basis is the first step in that direction.
Not only this helps with assessing the workforce’s attitude or performance, but it also fosters an open conversation between the top management and the employees. Even though it can be difficult for some business leaders to evaluate and understand the motivations and goals of their employees, the feedback from the latter is highly valuable and ultimately leads to mutual understanding.
The mutual understanding that comes thanks to regular collection and application of employee feedback leads to an even more important contribution: the creation of employee-first culture. Often referred to as “people-first culture,” it’s widely accepted as one of the most important employee engagement trends for 2020, and for a good reason.
This culture values employee voices and opinions and operates on the belief that there’s a mutual understanding; this means that the communication is not limited to what the people can do for the organization, but what the organization can do to make people more happy, productive, and satisfied.
When employees are all that, the benefits are amazing:
Increased productivity and enthusiasm to perform. Motivated employees will go and beyond to meet the goals given to them.
A lower turnover rate. When people feel involved and valued, the desire to stay will be stronger, as they would want to develop as professionals where their opinion matters.
Employee loyalty and job satisfaction. No one wants to stay and work somewhere where sharing their ideas doesn’t mean anything. On the other hand, a company with a people-first culture makes it easy for people to stay. On top of that, such a company will have quite a reputation in the super competitive labor market, as more would want to join.
Understanding workforce trends and dynamics. Collecting anonymous employee feedback can help employers recognize ongoing staff dynamics. For example, the employer can reveal such issues as an unethical employee, a bossy manager, an unfriendly talent development specialist, or an ongoing conflict between employees or teams. On the other hand, it would also be possible to find out who’s doing their job well.
Now, let’s turn our attention to the second technique, which is a novel one that has been proven to work great for employers for employees alike: talent conversations.
Talent Conversations: Simple yet Powerful
A talent conversation is a way to build workplace relationships based on collaboration, rapport, and a mutual commitment to help each to improve performance. A manager or supervisor plays a deciding role here, as they are the ones in charge of facilitating talent conversations. As leaders, they’re better positioned to influence and develop talent.
Talent conversation is widely regarded as one of the simplest yet powerful ways to develop employees. They can happen at any time, and allows influencing them toward developing new skills and abilities to help both the employee and the company to achieve goals.
Here are the most essential steps that a facilitator of a talent conversation takes to help the employee:
Research the employee. Before the conversation, the manager needs to have a good understanding of who they are engaging with in a conversation. “This includes learning about their current performance level, learning style, future aspirations, career goals, and things that could motivate them,” says Morgan Boley, a talent acquisition expert at TheWordPoint. “This might help to find out what can motivate the employee and come up with appropriate ways to develop.”
Identify the goal before conducting the conversation. What exactly does each of the conversation participants want to achieve?
Discuss potential barriers. Talk about strengths, knowledge gaps, performance advancements, and career goals.
Define possible options for achieving the goal. That’s where both conversation partners work on ideas and opportunities for improving skills, learning new skills, etc.
Establish clear expectations. This means deciding the first steps and the ways to overcome obstacles.
Deliver a healthy dose of motivation. Here’re the top 40 employee motivational quotes to inspire the employee to act.
Finalize the entire plan. That’s when the two decide how to evaluate the performance and ensure that the employee stays on the right track.
Here’s an example of a situation where a talent conversation can be applied and how.
Situation: Mark is an underperformer, i.e. he consistently fails to meet the goals given by the manager. The decision is made to conduct a talent conversation and start assisting Mark to improve performance.
Goal: Advance Mark’s performance.
Strategy: focus Mark on his current performance while avoiding giving him new tasks or tasks and responsibilities that require new skills.
The bottom line here is that talent conversations can be an effective way to reduce the shortage of talent in a company without having to hire new employees. Moreover, the fact that a company cares about the professional development of employees also increases their loyalty and an intention to stay.
Make Your Employees Feel Heard
“Listen to your people,” Curtin said to summarize her article at Inc. “It matters.” We couldn’t agree more, as employee empowerment and respect goes a long way in strengthening companies and helping them achieve new heights.
Collecting employee feedback on a regular basis as well as using talent conversations to help them develop are two powerful techniques that can make a lot of difference for both your workforce and the company. The main secret of their effectiveness lies in the fact that they create a people-centric culture, which is not only a trend now, but a legit way to motivate employees to go out there and do their best work.
Decoding and Driving Employee Engagement