I kicked off my year on LinkedIn with my list of the top things I think we should all be aiming to do more of in 2019. It gained a huge amount of traction, and so I thought it was worth turning it into a blog post, to expand on each of those ten things in a little more detail, and why I believe they’re so fundamental when it comes to delivering business success.
#1 Be kind
I hate that this even needs to be said, but it’s a sad reality that, in almost all organisations out there, kindness is often way down the list when it comes to priorities. Discussions about the employee experience tend to focus on the office environment, how you’re onboarded, and the technology you have to help you to do your job. Yet there’s no great employee experience which wasn’t centred around basic human kindness. Kindness is often seen as a soft skill, something which is secondary to traits such as decisiveness. Want engaged, happy employees who are inspired to deliver, though? Then you need to start with kindness.
#2 Do what you say you’re going to do
I wonder, if we added up the percentage of time in each of our organisations, chasing people for work they’ve promised to do but haven’t actually delivered, what kind of a number we’d get to? I’m willing to bet we’d be pretty horrified by the answer. Individuals failing to do what they’ve said they leads to wasted time, inefficiencies, frustration, unhappy customers, and disengaged employees. Before committing to something, check yourself to ensure you can actually do it. And then do it. No ifs, no buts. Just do it.
#3 Help a colleague out
Generally speaking, we have to go out of our way to help others. Sometimes, we might wonder if it’s worth it, particularly if it takes up time that we could otherwise be using to do our own work. But I can promise you, the relationships you’ll build and the trust you’ll engender will outweigh what you put in, every time.
#4 Ask how someone is doing, and genuinely listen to their answer
“How are you?”
“Fine, how about you?”
It’s likely a familiar exchange in offices around the world each day. But how often do we genuinely listen to the response? “Fine” is a typical response to being asked “How are you?”, but if we listen carefully we’ll be able to tell from the tone, inflections and body language whether that person is really fine… or anything but.
Mental health problems are in part due to the fact that we just don’t identify them and address them early enough. Spending time with a colleague to talk, when you’ve realised that their “fine” is actually not the case, could be transformative, both to them and to the wider business.
#5 Listen in general
Two ears, one mouth… and no, we rarely get the balance right between speaking and listening. How many meetings have you found yourself in when it’s clear the participants simply aren’t listening? If we want to drive efficiencies and effectiveness then we have to listen. If we want to deliver a great employee experience then we have to listen. If we want to provide our customers with what they want then we have to listen. It’s listening, not speaking, which needs to form the foundation of our business operations.
#6 Ditch the pointless meetings
We all know the stats: we spend an average of 50% of our working week in meetings. How many of those meetings are actually driving value and worth the investment of time you spend in them? For those that aren’t, we owe it to both ourselves and our organisation to call them out. A well-run meeting can be the best investment in time you make that week. A poorly run meeting, with no clear agenda, objectives or end goal in sight, and we might as well all sit around a table and set light to the monthly payroll. Meetings take time and energy; we need to make an active choice as to whether that time and energy is better spent there, or elsewhere.
#7 Show compassion
There is a tendency, in the work environment, to forget that people are… well: people. We all have our own lives away from the workplace, our own challenges going on, which may or may not be visible to our work colleagues. Just taking time out to remember this, to extend a helping hand and appreciate that we don’t always see the full picture – that’s the kind of thing that truly engages people and buys in their longer-term loyalty to delivering business success.
Oh, and a word of advice: managers and leaders are human too. Compassion needs to run in all directions throughout your organisation; just because someone is senior to you, doesn’t mean they’re not also worthy of compassion.
#8 Deliver, deliver, deliver
At the heart of everything we do, we have to deliver. Deliverable outcomes triumph, every single time. It’s not enough to start a task and not complete it; it’s not enough to spend your entire time theorising without ever producing an output. A business lives or dies on its ability to deliver, and a great employee experience should enable employees to be able to deliver, every single day.
#9 Celebrate and champion diversity
You don’t need me to bore you with the statistics which link diversity to business profitability. It is a fact: more diverse organisations perform better, deliver more, and are viewed by potential talent as an employer of choice. If diversity isn’t already a top strategic priority for your Board team, then this needs to change, and fast.
#10 Make a difference
And ultimately, we need to come to work each day wanting to make a difference. A positive difference: to deliver output, help others and make our organisations great. It’s a common misconception that the employee experience is something delivered solely by senior leaders. The very best employee experiences out there are built by an entire organisation, each person within that business going out of their way to make a difference every single day.
So that’s my Top 10 must dos for 2019 – and beyond! Ten such simple things, yet it’s surprising how easy so many of them are to either forget, dismiss, or take for granted.
In 2019, we, each of us, have an opportunity to deliver something amazing. Let’s ensure that’s not an opportunity that we miss.