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Two Ways Managers Can Inspire a Changing Workforce

The old saying “different strokes for different folks” has never been more relevant than in today’s workforce. Leaders are finding not only is their company more diverse than it was a decade ago, but a more casual work environment has empowered employees to lean into their unique preferences and strengths.

Leaders should strive to inspire and champion creativity. A one-size-fits-all approach lacks the nuance necessary to adequately manage the modern workforce and can cause dissatisfaction and mistrust among employees and managers. In fact, according to a 2017 Harvard Business Review article, “Three years ago, 37 percent of CEOs were concerned about a lack of trust in businesses … across industries, that number has climbed to 55 percent.”

Today’s managers have the opportunity to work with people from various backgrounds and generations who possess unique work styles and preferences. Below are two ways leaders can inspire all members of their workforce regardless of department, background or work style.

1. People first

Understanding that a company is made up of people seems like a no-brainer, but this shift in thinking from the assembly-line mentality marks a substantial change for some managers. Workforces contain people, and people have different needs, desires, dreams and contradictions.

Though managing such complex and complicated creatures may seem daunting, doing the legwork on the front end to understand an employee’s work style and personality type is an excellent way to build trust. Here are a few specific ways to embrace a people-first mentality:

  • Set aside time to utilize the Myers-Briggs test or figure out employees’ Enneagram type and have a discussion based around these findings.
  • Team building sometimes gets a bad rap for coming off as clichéd, yet there is real value in engaging employees outside of their work environment. Update your team-building activity by taking an office poll of which experience they’d most enjoy.
  • Embrace random walk-arounds. Take a turn about the office to connect with employees you may not see daily. Face time among varying levels is crucial to forming lasting connections.

2. Feedback: the great equalizer

No matter their industry, background or personality, employees crave feedback. In engagement surveys, communication between managers and their workforce tops the list of employee needs.

But sometimes, managers miss the mark.

According to a recent Society for Human Resource Management article, “Having candid feedback sessions with employees once a year during the performance review cycle is standard practice, and woefully insufficient.” Companies need to stress to managers the importance of giving immediate, developmental feedback to their team members.

For a new generation of employees flooding the workforce, feedback only will increase in significance. In a Gallup poll about millennials and feedback, researchers found that “19 percent of millennials say they receive routine feedback. An even smaller percentage of millennials (17 percent) say the feedback they do receive is meaningful.”

Whether you have experience working with introverts or extroverts, boomers or millennials, make it your mission to provide verbal or written feedback to all members of your team.

Learn about managing a diverse workforce with the right tools and techniques here.