When it comes to maintaining employee trust and morale, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the leadership skills of print company managers to the test. In turn, many company executives are increasing their focus on management practices that build and strengthen relationships with employees.
Organizational leadership refers to the capacity of management to set and achieve challenging goals, take fast and decisive action when needed, outperform the competition and inspire others to perform at the highest level possible — no matter the state of business conditions. Here are five tactics for print company leaders to consider practicing that can lift employee morale and enhance performance.
1. Exhibit optimism
Employees look to their company leaders to set the tone and report on what the future holds. Managers that convey optimism, present positive views, offer honest answers and demonstrate concern for others can lessen staff anxiety and boost morale. Good leaders seek to inspire workers in good times and when things go awry.
2. Communicate with staff often
Effective workplace communication is an integral element of a business’s success. Keeping staff informed on plans and decisions enhances employee effectiveness and stops the creation of rumours that can harm morale, motivation and productivity.
In addition, stay ahead of questions employees may have, even if answers are still unfolding. Sharing what’s known, acknowledging what isn’t and committing to communicating more as details become known can keep staff calm and focused.
3. Listen to employees
Establish a process for employees to share ideas with management. Many ideas — for improving revenue, saving money, process improvement and new products — start with those who are working in the trenches.
Organizational behaviour research studies have repeatedly shown that organizations that ignore employee input can see decreased profitability.
A study by Sideways61 surveyed over 1,000 employees around the world and found that 82% of staff have ideas that could help improve their organizations, but 34% think their employer doesn’t listen to their ideas for improvement. In addition, 68% say their organization lacks a structured process for managing ideas.
Meanwhile, research from Gallup2 finds that companies that listen to their employees are 21% more profitable and have lower staff turnover.
This research strongly suggests that it is in an organization’s best interest to set up a system to intake employee suggestions and to implement them.
4. Focus on team building
Teamwork is the bedrock on which all successful businesses are built. Employees want to feel they belong and are part of a team; this is especially important during challenging times. As many organizations are supporting remote workers, the importance of teamwork cannot (and should not) be underestimated.
Research from psychologists at Rice University stresses the importance of helping remote team members feel connected and appreciated. The group recommends a mix of daily team check in calls, e-mails summarizing goals and accomplishments and non-work virtual events to build team member relationships.
5. Look for ideas in other industries.
Examine how executives in other industries lead their operations, address challenges and engage with employees. How leaders in other industries do things offers new and different perspectives that can be applied to your print company.
Summing Up Effective Leadership
Print company managers are tasked daily with finding ways to ensure staff work collaboratively and efficiently to achieve maximum results. The pandemic has decisively tested the ability of organizations to sustain employee morale and transition to new ways of working and meeting customer needs. Effective leadership that combines open, honest and transparent staff communication with a willingness to listen builds a positive and productive work environment that can withstand many unforeseen organizational challenges.