When asked “what has been the biggest positive change in your company culture in the last 15 months?”
“Flexibility”, “empathy”, “more caring of each other”, “seeing people as people”, “mental health checks”, “having each other’s’ backs” and “togetherness” were some of the responses from the AAR seminar I led for the creative industry last week.
This needs to be celebrated – at a time of crisis we have, in many businesses, got better at caring for each other. I know not all, but definitely in some. This is good, as Gallup found in 2019 that 28% of employees were feeling burnout “very often” or “always”, telling us there was a clear opportunity for us to do better. They also found that 59% of employees are less likely to look for a job with a different organization in the next 12 months if they have a high level of well-being.
And now, as we are coming back together, some of the time or maybe even all of the time, we need to acknowledge that people are going to be in different places – positive, unsure, changed by the last 15 months. It means, as leaders, we need to have different and deeper conversations with our employees, to understand what is really going on for them right now.
Here are some 121 conversation starters which might lead you to a different conversation with your team:
- Tell me about your experience of working here over the last 18 months.
- What positively helped your well-being during the pandemic?
- What did not help your well-being during the pandemic?
- How could we have supported you better?
- What have you learnt about yourself and your relationship with work through the pandemic?
- And how can we build on this as we re-emerge?
- What conversation have we never had before that would help me support you better at work?
- What do you need from me right now to support you?
This deeper conversation marks one of the big future trends in management – the shift towards the empathetic leader; one who creates an environment and roles to enable their teams to live well and be highly productive. Managers who display high levels of empathy have three times the impact on their employees’ performance than those who display low levels of empathy. The Pandemic has sped up this change, the challenge for all of us is how we can speed up our own learning to be an even greater empathetic leader?
Image: Dhaya Eddine Bentale @Unsplash.com