Do Your Employees Have Your Back? Create a Culture of Engagement.

by Cindy Gordon

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take a month-long vacation from your business and know that your employees were taking care of everything the way you would? Imagine relaxing on a beach or sightseeing through Europe and not checking your text, emails or phone messages because your employees have your back!

According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report, only 30 percent of the U.S. workforce is highly engaged at work (engaged employees are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace). It’s no wonder that business owners and leaders are more stressed and overworked than ever. However, investing time in building supportive relationships with your employees will not only help your business run more smoothly and effectively but will also drive profitability at a faster rate than ever.

There are three elements leaders must build on to create a “got your back” environment.

  1. Emotional intelligence awareness 
  2. Supportive communication skills
  3. Consistent leadership behaviors

Emotional Intelligence Awareness

Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships sensibly and empathetically. Leaders who have a high level of emotional intelligence notice the impact of their emotions on others and use this sense to build connection with their workforce. It is a common adage that people don’t leave companies, they leave bosses. Therefore, bosses who build their emotional intelligence capacity are more likely to have employees who are highly committed to them and the organization.

Daniel Goleman, the father of emotional intelligence, asserts that the leader’s mood and behaviors drive the moods and behaviors of everyone else. A cranky and ruthless boss creates a toxic organization filled with negative underachievers who ignore opportunities, while an inspirational, inclusive leader produces helpers who take on any challenge. Which type of workplace are you creating?

Supportive Communication Skills

Have you ever gone to someone with an idea and gotten shot down before fully explaining it? There is no quicker way to diminish a relationship by talking dismissively to someone. Developing communication skills that open the door to building positive rapport will show your employees they have your ear and you care about what they have to say. 

Some of the best communication skills are seen in improv comedy. These tactics encourage people to build on ideas given to them by others. The simple “Yes, and” skill is taught at many leadership workshops because of its powerful, positive effect on a conversation. It provides a positive framing of the conversation (an important emotional intelligence capacity) and encourages collaborative ideas to build on an initial concept. This skill shouts, “I support you – we’re in this together!!”

Consistent Leadership Behaviors

Actions speak louder than words. Have you ever been told by someone, “I’ll call you back in five minutes” and 45 minutes later you’re still waiting to hear from them? How does that make you feel? Unimportant? Insignificant? Redundant? Yes! 

Consistencies between a leader’s words and actions are at the root of employee engagement issues. To build a “got your back” environment, leaders must be very cognizant of their behaviors. The leader who, for example, seeks opportunities to look after the best interest of others will be seen more favorably and will likely be looked after by others. The leader who picks and chooses who to be nice to will be looked down upon and will create an environment of “every person for themselves.”

Leaders must realize that they are the drivers of their workplace culture. It is up to them to set the tone for a “got your back” environment. Don’t expect your employees to have your back if they don’t feel that you’ve got theirs!

Cindy Gordon is the owner of Business Rescue Coaching, LLC. She is a strong evangelist of the importance for business owners and leaders to create a highly engaged workforce to achieve more success with less stress. 

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