It’s not only a question of employer branding anymore because in many companies the lack of skilled personnel is a hard reality and after the nth campaign some may ask themselves why talents aren’t applying or are even leaving. The time for lip service seems to be over.
Talents want more than just a job that, in the end, doesn’t meet the expectations promised by the bright company websites and job platforms. They want freedom, self-fulfillment and autonomy.
I’ll explain what employees of all ages want today and how room for maneuver and flexibility can not only be “preached” but implemented sustainably and credibly through good leadership.
Today, employees desire more and extensive ways to contribute and to be part of the decision-making. Having grown-up in a digital world, in which everything can be done at the click of a mouse, generation Y doesn’t want to be bossed around or controlled needlessly. Exciting tasks and projects are important factors when talents look for a new employer and bad leadership won’t be tolerated for long and the consequence is leaving for something new.
Or how a client put it recently: “in the past, we used to take part in the decision-making process at management meetings, today we’re only subordinates”. So who is surprised that the next level in the hierarchy is only supposed to act under orders instead of being part of the discussion and contributing to it. The bigger and more global the company, the smaller the room for maneuver for the individual.
But there are ways out of this dilemma. Leadership can be handled if managers open up and share their emotions or even their own (business) worries with the employees. Today, no one has to play the role of the all-knowing hero and be the only one responsible for the solution to all problems.
Leadership means to manage emotions and this starts with your own fears and worries but also desires and hopes - we call that self-management.
To admit to yourself and others that there is pressure from above and then work on creative and innovative solutions with your team can be a very stressful path. Mostly employees have no problem with clear goals, quite the opposite, they even wish to have them.
However, they don’t like the fact that there is no flexibility in how to achieve those goals. If it’s only about following the pre-defined instructions, sometimes even without any recognisable sense, then the frustration of the employees, who wish to contribute, increases significantly.
You’ll be surprised how enthusiastically people can work on seemingly impossible tasks if they have the freedom to contribute to the solution.
Motivation is fueled by fun, enjoying experiments, feeling recognized and appreciated - and - pure emotion!
To make sure you know what your team needs as motivation, just ask them! That way you can see where you and your team stand and what you can improve. Here you can find questionnaire and application advice (in German)!
Ursula Vranken is the founder of the Digital Leadership Summit; managing director at IPA - Consultant, business coach, speaker and LinkedIn Top Voices 2017. This article was initially published on LinkedIn.
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