As the economy shows new signs of life, so, too, does ambition. Last year, those who avoided layoffs were relieved just to have a job. This year, those same employees are starting to feel the wear and tear of the extra duties piled on them when their co-workers departed – and to wonder if the sacrifice is worth it. A CareerBuilder study released earlier this month reported that nearly 1 in 5 workers were planning on changing jobs in 2010.
In short, it’s time to return our attention – if it strayed in last year’s hustle to stay afloat – on how we can keep our teams happy and fulfilled. Of course, for most managers money continues to be tight. So the question is: How can we provide alternative forms of compensation to keep our teams satisfied?
1. Delegating not bottlenecking.
Nothing depletes team morale more than a bottleneck in production, one that’s often created by the very same manager who is wondering why deadlines aren’t being met. Starting with yourself, stress the importance of delegation. If tasks can be passed down from senior to junior staff that also means that knowledge is being effectively passed down.
2. Flexibility not “face time.”
Whether it’s allowing employees to spend a designated amount of time at work on outside projects (aka “daylighting”), or permitting them to work from home 1 or 2 days a week, letting go of our ingrained obsession with “face time” is a great way to instantly boost happiness. By allowing team members to have a say in how they manage their work-life balance, you up their engagement level and their productivity.
3. Learning not compartmentalizing.
Perhaps the largest part of remaining engaged is continued learning. And promotions aren’t the only way to achieve this. It can be as simple as building a culture where taking time out to explain something is the norm (e.g. a designer to a programmer; a writer to a sales person; you to an intern), or as complex as allowing a team member to move sideways into a job with a completely different skill set because their goals have changed.
4. Transparency not secrecy.
When we’re struggling, our first instinct is often toward secrecy – to shield staff from any knowledge that might cause anxiety. Yet transparency can be a far more effective tool. Being honest with your employees about where the business is and what needs to happen to make it successful has a number of positive effects: it makes clear your trust and belief in your team to get the job done, while also giving them tangible goals to rally around.
5. Appreciations not accusations.
Busy as we all are, it’s easy to only approach team members when something has gone wrong. It’s also easy to assume that our smartest, most talented team members know that they are doing a great job. Not necessarily. Making time to praise team members when they excel will keep you and your team on the same page, and build a nice counterweight to that constructive criticism we’re all so good at.
***This post by J.K. Glei is based on research by the Behance team. Behance runs the Behance Creative Network, the 99% productivity think thank, the Action Method project management application, and the Creative Jobs List.