This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab
Are you confident in the direction your company is going? How about your own leadership capabilities? Self-confidence has been linked to performance, happiness and even health, but in the workplace we know it's strongly tied to success.
Although the Canadian economy was not hit as hard as other countries during the recession, Canadian companies tightened their belts to prepare for tougher times. For some businesses this meant layoffs, increased workloads and cut backs – placing even more pressure on employees to do more with less. Employees can sense when things are going well and are even quicker to notice when something is wrong. Both can impact performance and attitude.
With many companies still picking up the pieces from the global financial crisis, it's important for leaders to show their employees that the roadmap for the future is strong and stable. Here's what business leaders can do to keep their employees feeling positive and confident in their organizations.
Focus on culture
Now is the time to focus on culture. Work might be stressful and days may be long, but it's the people and environment that keep us coming back day after day. Show your employees that your office is not just a place to punch in at 9 a.m. and out at 5 p.m. – it's a place to grow and build relationships.
At LinkedIn, we aim to have an inspired workforce first and foremost. One of my favourite initiatives is a program that brings in amazing and inspirational speakers to talk with our staff. From wellness gurus to business experts, we hear from our employees that they find these talks to be beneficial for their careers and a genuinely enriching experience overall. A similar scenario can be easily replicated at even the smallest workplace. Bringing in different perspectives can lead to new thinking and an interest in coming to work to learn and grow.
Creating a stimulating environment sets your company apart, expresses your interest in your staff's ongoing development and helps them grow as professionals. Companies with strong cultures are more resilient and capable of taking on challenges that come their way.
Your employees probably have a lot of questions, but is your company a place where they feel comfortable asking the difficult ones? Even if your company is faring well, your employees might wonder what's next for them and their colleagues. It's essential for your leadership team to have either an open door or town hall policy. Hold monthly or bi-monthly all-staff meetings to allow employees to hear updates straight from senior staff and provide them with the opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns.
Creating an open environment will show your employees that you hear them, but it's also important to act on their suggestions and questions. Think about ways to keep communication open and regular all the time – not just when there's a problem – and your team will be better for it.
Celebrate the wins
Let's be frank – raises are not always an option. Even if we wanted to, sometimes we can't provide our staff with large bonuses, especially when some companies are just getting their finances back on track. But the effect of recognizing their great work cannot be underestimated.
Make appreciation a part of everyone's day-to-day routine at the office and make sure the whole team knows about it. Inform your staff when you've won a new client, when you've hit your targets and when you've beat expectations. A surprise celebration when your team has won an award will boost everyone's spirit and make them proud.
Get creative about how you can thank your employees. Take them out for lunch, give them the afternoon off or a lieu day, or even engage your employees in activities that support the community – helping others is a great reward in itself. These gestures are small, but they show that you've noticed their hard work and they will remember the gesture.
There's no one approach that works for every organization, but there are changes businesses can make to keep confidence up in the workplace. If you can remain relentlessly focused on building the right culture, your employees are going to be more motivated and your business can thrive over the long term.