As leaders, it is our job to ensure that we create a work environment that will allow our employees to thrive.
Leaders are responsible for providing the direction and support that our team members need to excel in their jobs. Beyond that, we need to build relationships with our people and connect with them on a personal level. This can be challenging, but many leaders out there are learning the strategies required to do this and create a positive experience for our team. But what happens when the business begins to struggle to meet its goals? It’s easy enough to create a positive experience when results are good; however, what truly separates the best leaders is their ability to create a positive experience during the most difficult of times.
We’ve all been there: halfway through the quarter, business results start to lag. Despite our best efforts to plan ahead, internal and external conditions create numerous challenges that negatively impact revenue and unforeseen problems start to crop up. This is often the cue for the “blame game” to start and many leaders go around looking for someone to “hold accountable” to explain the poor performance. Gone are the changes that have been provided to create a positive experience and in their place are more structure and control as if that somehow, the positive experience is the source of the problem. Other leaders address poor performance by digging in themselves and lose sight of all the things they were doing to create a positive employee experience in the first place.
When leaders do this, it sends a message loud and clear to the employees: we care about your experience if results are positive, but when they start to slip, your experience is no longer important. Part of the problem is the perception that doing things related to employee experience will get in the way of results versus enhancing them. This, despite the fact that numerous studies show positive employee experience to be correlated with better productivity and performance.
The best leaders stay the course and show employees they are just as valuable and their experience matters just as much when things are not going well. Rather than looking for someone to blame, leaders should demonstrate their commitment to the team by holding on to the things that make the organization a great place to work in the first place. The best leaders will focus more on motivating their people when business results suffer, not less. They will connect with their teams to understand the concerns people have and help them identify ways to elevate performance so the organization can return to the level of success it was experiencing.
Does this mean poor performance shouldn’t be addressed? Of course not. If you are focused on the right behaviors of developing your team and coaching them on a regular basis, you should be having performance conversations all along, regardless of business results. What it does mean is that you have an opportunity to demonstrate just how committed you are in creating a positive employee experience, during the ups and downs of the business cycle. Make sure to send the right message and let people know that no matter what, their experience matters and your organization is worth sticking with, in good times and bad.