What it Means to Lead With Your Heart in the Workplace
March 31, 2023

“Engaged employees work harder because they have an emotional investment in creating value for their employer. Studies show a link between engagement and significantly higher performance levels. Work teams with the most engaged employees achieve higher productivity and profitability, better quality, higher customer satisfaction ratings and better employee retention rates. Meanwhile, they incur fewer safety incidents with less employee theft and absenteeism”.

All too often, business is about following your head rather than your heart. Being a leader positions you to put humanity back into the workplace – so why not capitalise on that power? Without the emotional component to your leadership, your ability to understand and react to your team’s communication and interactions is limited.

We are heading into a future – and some may say we have already arrived – where an emotional connection in the workplace is the key to unleashing the full power and creativity of employee teams, exceptional customer service and strengthened client relationships.

We’ve put together 5 key questions to better understand how emotionally attached your employees are to the organisation and what you can do to help nurture a greater sense of belonging. Now is as good a time as any to reflect on the relationship you have with your people and ask yourself; Are these meaningful?

If not, what should I do to improve them?

Employee feels: I am motivated by management to do the best job I can.

Leadership does: How do you keep your employee’s motivated to drive productivity?

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to continuously communicate expectations, to define duties, and to help people accomplish strategic objectives. But this is no longer enough to retain top talent.

Nowadays, employees crave recognition, differentiation and are motivated by employment opportunities. For this to work, leaders need to appreciate that teams and organisations are ultimately made up of individuals and to trust that they are the best at what they do. This requires leadership to be fully present with employees, to take a personal interest in them and to practice the art of active listening to truly engage with their individual needs and ideas.

Employee feels: I believe my contributions are valued by the organisation.

Leadership does: How do you demonstrate you value your employees?

Being productive at work goes far beyond the task your employees are working on; And it’s not about raises or incentives, either. It’s about recognising that your team is your best resource and empowering them to believe in this, too.

A recent study showed that 70% of employees felt motivation and morale would improve significantly if management said thank-you more. One way to show genuine interest and enable your employees to feel important and valued at work is by creating open lines of communication. This will enable you to respond to feedback while encouraging a safe space to share insights, ideas and innovations – all in real-time. Your investment shouldn’t stop here. We suggest creating opportunities for new experiences and training. It’s proven that professional development supports employees in gaining a wider perspective in their jobs and in their personal lives. It’s also a great retention tool, instilling loyalty and commitment within your organisation.

Employee feels: I feel comfortable expressing my opinions at work.

Leadership does: Are you encouraging employees to share their thoughts?

According to a study by Google, the key to building a culture where people are comfortable being themselves requires psychological safety; a term that describes the shared belief that a team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. Research shows that people who feel psychologically safe are more likely to work together, sharing ideas and collaborating to achieve common goals. This is because when we feel safe, we are more willing to be vulnerable and express conflicting beliefs with the knowledge that our team will still support us.

Leaders can promote this kind of environment by walking the walk and practicing it themselves—speak openly and acknowledge when others do the same. When team members feel as if they need to hide parts of their personality, it’s not only engagement that suffers – it can also keep minorities, women and other possible marginalised groups from performing at their best.

Employee feels: I receive constructive feedback on my performance.

Leadership does: Are you providing regular and real-time feedback?

According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report, only 21% of employees feel that their performance management motivates them to do great work. This tells us that when it comes to feedback, there is much room for improvement. A good start is by providing feedback that is meaningful. This means that the information won’t always be positive, but it will be constructive.

When you’re giving feedback, ask yourself;

1) If you are clearly communicating what you are seeing;
2) If you are clearly communicating the changes you want employees to make and why;
3) If the information you are communicating is specific and defined;
4) Whether you are providing them with the opportunity to ask clarifying questions.

Gallup’s 2015 management report found that employees who have regular meetings with their managers are 3x more likely to be engaged than employees who do not. Regular and real-time feedback in the form of one-on-one meetings is a great way to set the tone for casual discussions to help increase engagement levels at work.

Employee feels: I receive opportunities for professional development.

Leadership does: Are you providing opportunities for professional development?

Organisations with the most engaged workforces provide a significant amount of learning opportunities for employees to excel. When you create a learning environment, you are enabling your employees to feel supported by a culture in which knowledge, information and resources are readily shared.

The reality is that your employees are more motivated to perform well if they have a vision for their future growth and development. According to Gallup, employees who use their skills, and abilities every day are 6x more likely to be engaged at work, 8% more productive, and 15% less likely to leave their jobs.

Imagine the success you can achieve with additional training and development opportunities.

Are you taking active steps to understand and improve upon the emotional needs within your organisation?

For more advice and support on anything people related, please feel free to email us on [email protected] or book a discovery call here.

If you want your business to be made up of engaged employees who therefore perform well, please get in touch to see how we can help you create this Winning Culture.