The age of the millennial employee has ushered in a new era of work. For many leaders, this is a challenging time to manage their teams. The rise in the number of employees quietly quitting their jobs is one sign that things have changed—and not for the better. In fact, there are many reasons why employees are leaving companies without warning. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of those reasons and share tips on how to become an effective leader in today’s workplace.
In a recent study by Gallup, half of the workforce was actively looking for a new job. In another study conducted by Harvard Business Review, 50% of employees said they were disengaged from their work.
Now you might be thinking, “I would never quit my job.” But I’m willing to bet that you’re one of those 50% who is disengaged (and honestly, if you’re happy at work and love your boss and coworkers, that’s great—but don’t get too comfortable). Most people don’t actually quit their jobs because they hate them or their bosses. Rather, they leave because they want something different than what is available in their current position. They are looking for a job where they can be themselves and make a difference in some way or another; otherwise known as an “effective leader.”
As we discussed earlier, the reasons for employees’ dissatisfaction are many and varied. In addition to the ones mentioned above, there is also another factor at play here: technology.
Technology has changed the way people communicate with one another in both positive and negative ways. While it’s easy to see its positives (such as connecting with friends across the world), it can also be seen as a detriment when it comes to interpersonal communication between employees and leaders. In fact, according to some studies conducted by Gallup, “one-third of American workers say they’ve ‘checked out’ from their jobs.” Nowadays, many employees find themselves turning towards email or texting rather than face-to-face interactions with their peers at work because they don’t want those interactions to affect their careers negatively or be perceived incorrectly by others outside of their immediate work environment.
As a leader in today’s workplace culture—whether you’re an employee yourself or leading from behind—you must learn how best respond when faced with this kind of situation: what does being an effective leader mean? What does it mean for your team members who choose not to follow along? And most importantly perhaps: How do we create an environment where everyone feels heard?
Empathy is the ability to see things from another person’s perspective. It’s a key leadership skill, and it’s a characteristic of an empactful leader.
You can increase your capacity for empathy by practicing active listening and asking questions that demonstrate an effort to understand others’ points of view. This includes aligning yourself with their emotions and experiences, as well as expressing empathy through words or non-verbal communication like nodding or smiling.
Here are some examples of how empathy plays out in action:
- If you’re leading a meeting with people who look tired and discouraged, rather than assuming they’ve made mistakes or aren’t working hard enough on behalf of the team, try asking them what they think might be going on with other team members that would cause these feelings—and then work together toward solutions.
- If someone drops something accidentally at work (maybe coffee), rather than saying something like “that was stupid” or making light of the situation by telling everyone else not to worry about cleaning up after themselves because we all make mistakes sometimes (which can come across as condescending), take some time afterward when no one else is around so that you can apologize sincerely and ask if there is anything he/she needs help with cleaning up.”
There are many ways to improve your capacity to connect with your team, but a productive place to start is by using your strengths. This can be done in two ways — developing and using them or getting help from others who have those skills.
As you become more aware of the strengths that you bring to an organization, it’s important to understand how they give you the ability to connect with others. For example, if empathy is one of your primary strengths, then try making sure that people know what they’re doing wrong rather than just telling them how something could be better done in the future (and providing only vague ideas). This allows coworkers and customers alike to feel heard and understood — a critical component for creating meaningful connections between employees at all levels of an organization.
In this day and age, there are many ways to make an impact on your team. It’s important to understand what your employees need from you as their leader, so that you can connect with them more effectively. Take some time to reflect on yourself and how you interact with others; if necessary, seek out professional help or advice from an organization that specializes in digital leadership coaching. You might be surprised by what you learn!