Updated: Aug 30
Not sure what you’ve been up to, but my summer’s been pulsing with Pulse Checks! As organizations continue battling burnout, attrition, and the latest addition to the trend bench – quiet quitting – there’s a screaming need to peek under the hood of the ol’ Employee Experience (EX). Friends, I’ve heard a lot this summer. Some of it uniquely specific to a person or team. But also, I’m seeing themes; some very real things leaders need to be looking in the face and responding to. As loyal readers know, we design our Pulse Checks around Four Quadrants of an impactful EX. We’re hunting to understand the degree to which teams can Deliver, Develop, Connect and Thrive. Because get these four right, and you’re sitting on gold.
Organizations have opportunities across all four, but today I share the most resonant theme I’m seeing in each quadrant. Maybe something tracks with your own experience!
So here goes:
What’s holding people back from delivering their best work?
Right now, it’s the absence of clarity – not to be confused with certainty. Working people are adult people. They recognize certainty is in short supply.
Clarity, though, is something else. It’s having access to context, hearing about customer trends, gaining insight into how leaders are making choices. All of this, in turn, helps people to effectively prioritize, to anticipate, and to make better decisions with less support.
And all of this comes down to better communication – what I refer to as“little c” versus “Big C” communication. In other words, it’s not a dearth of memos or presentations or status meetings. It’s a need for more check-ins, more off-the-cuff dialog, more leader streaming a bit of consciousness. Letting team members see the sausage (or insert vegan option!) be made.
Because it’s human nature to always want to grow (which does not always mean wanting a promotion btw!)
Now, are companies investing in training and development? Actually, yes. They are.
So…what are people missing? What are they wanting?
They want more playground time.
They want recognition that learning a tool or a framework in a leadership training program is a critical foundation – a first step. But actually using the tool takes practice. It takes room to role play and fail and share ideas with peers. Because leading in this moment is messy. We need more than education – we need support.
My biggest recommendation here is peer coaching circles. We now build them into all of our leadership development programs. And they are a win every damn time.
Because here’s what’s happening.
People are starting to receive the requisite memos and mandates. “Come into the office 3 times per week,” or “we’re all onsite every Monday and Thursday.”
Some people are happy to return to the office. Others are devastated. Many are living in the gray.
But love it or hate it, what I’m hearing consistently is things like:
I come into the office and sit on Zoom all day
I’m commuting 90 minutes to do exactly what I was doing from home where I was more productive
I’m struggling to balance it all – and I’m not even sure why being here matters
Can anyone relate?
So here’s my two cents. I’m not gonna weigh in on policy because that’s not my jam.
I’ll say this instead. From an EX-perspective, coming to the office should feel purposeful. It should feel compelling and connective – like being part of something and not just checking a box. Even if only for an hour.
So dial up your creativity. Order in lunch, run a brainstorm with post-its and markers and movement. Or do some speed-networking or bring two teams together to meet and greet, or…just do something.
You got this.
There’s so much sitting in this bucket right now. Boundaries and overwhelm and the need to feel appreciated.
But that’s not where I want to focus. Instead, let’s talk about trust. Because, like certainty, it seems in short supply these days.
People are feeling surveilled at work. It’s creepy and disempowering and driving bad behavior. I’m hearing stories of getting online at all hours to email or slack or post – anything to “show proof of life” as in “hey boss, I’m working, I really am!”
Ugh. Can we not just seek and celebrate results achieved in a reasonable window of expectation?
If you’re a leader sending 10pm emails, telling your team “I don’t expect you to respond, I’m just getting it off my plate,” what they’re hearing is “but also, if I’m online at night you should be too.”
Leaders need to role model better behavior. And teams need to hold boundaries and self-advocate.
We’re all in this together.
I’m hoping something in here resonated with you. And if it did, would you hit reply and share?
And of course, if you’re curious at all about what a Pulse Check might look like, well you know where to find me. Just not at 10pm. Because Netflix and self-care