As humans, one of our deepest needs is to feel truly valued. If we consider how much time we spend in, or thinking about work, then feeling valued is critical.
Think about this. If you ask any senior manager whether they value their people, then it’s extremely unlikely that you would get a “No”! However, ask their staff whether they feel valued, then it is quite likely that the responses will be somewhat mixed.
So, just what is going wrong?
I strongly believe that we over complicate things. Making people feel valued doesn’t have to cost money…conducting staff surveys, expensive consultants to tell us what to do (although sometimes external input can tell us what we are too blind to see for ourselves!).
Creating a culture where people feel valued needs, in the words of the great suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, ‘Deeds not Words’. If you are concerned that there isn’t a commitment from the top in your organisation, then think about the changes you can make. Individual managers making small positive changes can have a huge impact on their team. So let’s take a look at some practical ideas….
Team diversity – embrace it, treat everyone as you would like to be treated, value people for their differences and what they bring to the table. A team lacking in diversity will lack ideas, challenge and character – don’t strive for a team of clones!
Care – to care for your people does not mean adopting a “Country Club” style of leadership. It does require us to consider their work/life balance, working environment, workload and other pressures they may be under - either in or outside work. If you are able to offer gym membership, neck and shoulder massages etc. then great, but if budgets don’t allow, consider well-being or learning days – one company I know gives all employees £100 a year to spend on a learning activity – this can be baking, chocolate making or anything else they want to do. They have such a good reputation that they are inundated with applications from excellent people wanting to join. Creating an environment where people feel cared for means in return, they care for their work and their colleagues.
Motivation – you can only properly motivate people if you get to know them well. So many staff complain that their managers are involved in endless internal meetings, so keep these short and to a minimum and use the released time with the team. A simple exercise to test how well you know your team is to set some questions to ask yourself about each member. For example, what are they proud of? Where do they live? What do they do outside of work? What pressures are they under? What’s their MIT (most important thing)? How do they like to be rewarded or acknowledged? What concerns them? What would they spend a gift of £50 on? Write your answers privately then ask them how well you have done!
Judith is an accomplished manager with 20 years experience in the learning and development sector. Initially working for the Recruitment Employment Confederation where she was Director of Professional Development she is now self-employed and works with individuals and businesses who are looking for support with their training and career development needs.