Do you have an inclusive, employee-centred, and collaborative work environment?
A recent article from MIT review listed this as one of three things that good leaders need to focus on by leveraging the power of relationship-building. It’s a point that resonated strongly with us here at Connor HQ: leaders who can bring together diverse people from across their organisations to build a collaborative work environment are far more likely to find their people delivering superior outcomes for the organisation.
The question is: how do you take that approach and roll it out across an organisation? Great leaders can use their own personal brand and relationship-building power to achieve success, but your organisation can also be optimised to make those efforts successful.
When building a diverse and collaborative work environment, it pays to start at the beginning of the employee lifecycle. Are you attracting a diverse pool of talent to your organisations – and are you then actually hiring the right people to build that diverse work environment?
We aren’t just talking about gender or ethnic diversity here, though those are of course important. We’re also talking about neurodiversity - diversity of ideas, approaches, and thoughts. It’s easy to slip into a habit of hiring people ‘like us’ – which can be the death of cultural diversity in organisations.
Any organisation that aspires to be employee-centric should consider what steps they take to develop their people. Providing coaching or mentoring services sends a clear signal to your people that their wellbeing and career development is a priority for you – and of course, you’ll also realise the benefits of increasingly skilled and talented employees.
Better still, adaptive coaching approaches that can tailor to the individual needs of your people will help ensure that development is an option for all your employees, not just the chosen few.
Development is just one aspect of employee-centricity. It’s also important to help employees to feel empowered, not only in their role but also in their relationships across your organisation.
Of course, great leaders will build relationships with their people that by their very nature empower employees to speak up about issues that they feel strongly about, or when they feel there’s a problem that needs attention. In our experience, organisations can also benefit from running more holistic training sessions aimed at helping people in your organisation feel like they have a voice and can use it – for instance, by running session in how to have difficult conversations with more senior employees.
Research shows that 87% of us would like to work more flexibly – yet only 11.1% of jobs were advertised as being open to flexible working in 2018. The benefits to organisations of addressing this issue should be obvious. By enabling your people to balance their work and home lives on their terms, you’re far more likely to get the best out of them at work, along with a host of more measurable benefits around absence and timekeeping and engagement.
At the same time, flexible working can attract a more diverse workforce to your organisation, as more and more people are able to fit the roles you’re asking them to do around their lives. So if you haven’t yet investigated how to properly enable and promote this in your organisation, this could be a very quick win.
It’s true that great leaders are talented relationship-builders – but it’s not something that everyone is born with. The good news is that it’s an eminently teachable skill, so if your leadership aren’t natural relationship builders, then CEO training or coaching for your senior team can go a long way to helping you realise the benefits across your organisation.
It’s important to note that creating a great workplace relies on a combination of efforts. Tackling the points we’ve highlighted here in this blog at a policy level will certainly help create the right environment to foster a thriving, collaborative workplace. But as the MIT review makes plain, it requires adept leadership to help change behaviours and embed new working practices in teams and organisations.