December 14, 2020

Employee engagement in challenging times

Employee engagement during periods of crisis is a unique challenge. Bravely is here to help you meet this challenge as a manager and position yourself to tackle future leadership challenges with resilience and agility.

A crucial first step to boosting employee engagement is to understand what you can and can’t control. You didn’t create the stressful situations that are barriers to engagement on your team, but what you can control is the environment you create for your team and whether they feel safe talking with you about what they need.

That kind of trust isn’t built overnight, but there are some powerful steps you can take right now to move the needle:

  1. Model vulnerability. Share what you’re feeling and experiencing to show your team that they’re not alone and give them the freedom to open up to you.
  2. Reframe the relationship as a partnership. Think of being a manager as a partnership, in which you and your direct reports have some responsibility for making work less stressful for each other. This can include having open conversations about managing workload and deadlines, as well as asking questions about what your direct reports need.
  3. Know what they’re going through. In our socially-distanced world, people are craving connection, and the barrier between the personal and professional may have to shift in order to give people the full support they need in this moment. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions and get to the heart of what your direct reports need.

Supporting engagement is not easy work, but it’s easier if you have a solid plan and an accountability partner —that’s where a Bravely Pro can come in. Here are some ways you can work with a coach on crafting an engagement plan: 

  1. Discuss where you’re stuck. Maybe there’s feedback you’re frustrated or confused by, or you just feel like you can’t get started. You can talk through what’s going on for you with a Pro, and come away with a plan of action.
  2. Create the space. When you have a lot on your plate, it can be difficult to make time to reflect and craft a plan, and setting aside time to get started with a Pro can help you to get going.
  3. Have an accountability partner. By working with the same Pro for multiple sessions, you can consistently check in, maintain momentum, and stay accountable to your goals.

As you start to think about a plan, here are just a few of the reasons engagement has been so challenging over the past six months, and how you can help your team overcome them.

  1. News overload. The endless onslaught of negative news is taking a toll. Model healthy self-care by telling your team how you’re coping — whether that’s taking walks during the day, “unplugging” in off-hours, or taking vacation time.
  2. Loss of organic interaction. For many, one of the biggest changes this year has been the absence of in-the-moment exchanges that happen in an office setting, which can be energizing and inspiring. Partner with your direct reports to keep channels of communication open as needed.
  3. Uncertainty. The worry and anxiety that arise in unpredictable circumstances can become all-encompassing when allowed to grow. As a manager, you can limit uncertainty by setting clear and specific expectations about the things you can control.

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