Today’s workforce is seeking much more than a salary from their job. Indeed, survey data from Gartner shows that the majority (82%) of employees believe that their organisation should see them as a person, not just as an employee. People no longer want to simply be a cog in a machine but rather to contribute meaningful work to a broader purpose.
Organisations with employees who are inspired by their company’s vision will be those that succeed with talent retention and organisational growth. For this to happen direction must come from senior leadership. While middle management may be those who encourage employees in their day-to-day work, it is up to senior leadership to set that vision and ensure that it trickles down throughout the collective mindset. So, how can leaders ensure that they are leading with purpose and empowering their workforce?
Change can demotivate employees
Many organisations have changed significantly in recent years, often in response to external factors such as the shift to hybrid working or the economic downturn. Gartner states that change has become a constant, given that the typical organisation today has undertaken five major firm-wide changes in the past three years. Inevitably, any kind of shift can unsettle people, especially if the impacts of change are not communicated transparently by leadership.
Unfortunately, a lack of motivating power from leaders has become commonplace; only a quarter of today’s employees state that their leaders are engaged, passionate and inspirational. Despite the real need for strong guidance right now, employees as a whole do not feel inspired by their leaders. And when employees don’t believe in their leaders’ words, they certainly aren’t going to go above and beyond in their role.
For an organisation to succeed leaders need to inspire their employees to do their best work. But leaders cannot change their leadership style overnight - regular, targeted intervention is required.
Integrating professional development into the flow of work
When seeking a promotion, or perhaps following a promotion, most people will be invited to take part in training that teaches them how to handle their new responsibilities. Such programmes generally take place at a given time and place, often in the format of a workshop or external training course, and attendance tends to be mandated from above. These opportunities can certainly be beneficial, especially as individuals undertake new responsibilities. But complementing these traditional approaches with more regular development opportunities can also pay dividends.
Traditional training courses may equip employees with the basic skills they need to lead a team, but rarely offer the highly personal skills that leaders need to inspire and empower in today’s business environment. When given the opportunity to focus on personal challenges, and tailor their learning, leaders can forge their own path to an inspiring leadership style.
Navigating change throughout the workforce
Personalised professional development is especially pertinent during periods of organisational change. For example, when Fishawack was making acquisitions and experiencing growth, we found that our leaders needed a space to reflect and develop new skills. So we introduced CoachHub’s digital coaching programme, giving senior leaders the opportunity to discuss their growth with a dedicated coach at a time that suited them. We found that coaching empowered our leaders, motivating them to develop their leadership style. This was especially useful during organisational updates, as it encouraged leaders to reflect on how they were supporting their teams through change.
When senior leaders experience a personalised approach to professional development like coaching there is also a ripple effect across the wider team. Not only can leaders adapt their leadership style in accordance with what they have learned during the coaching process, but there is a real power in expressing the value of learning and development as a senior leader. Just the act of engaging sets an example for those at earlier career stages to get involved, leading to higher levels of motivation as a result.
Periods of organisational change can be difficult for all employees, regardless of their seniority. Leaders have the power to encourage and motivate employees through such transformations – but only if they invest in themselves first. Taking the time to focus on professional development, with the support of personalised programmes like digital coaching, can be invaluable for leadership development. It also helps to set the standard across the organisation, encouraging all employees to take time for their growth. When learning and development is prioritised throughout the career lifecycle by all employees, organisations will experience higher levels of engagement and a brighter organisational culture
Emily Singletary, pictured below, is career experience manager at Fishawack Health