So the British public has voted to change its relationship with its EU partners. Fierce arguments were made on both sides about whether leave or remain was the best outcome for the UK economy.
The inescapable truth is that the UK lags behind our European competitors in both productivity and engagement. In this new era of uncertainty we need to acknowledge this and take real action to make improvements.
Employees will be looking to managers to provide clarity and direction in the face of unprecedented change. In many industries our employees will be feeling nervous and unsettled about their future, both in terms of their companies and their personal prospects.
The remedy for British businesses, whether large or small, is well researched and has little to do with the outcome of this referendum. We need:
- Visible empowering leadership providing a compelling narrative about our businesses, its goals, how it’s changing, what success looks like and what we need to do to achieve it
- Engaging managers who focus on their people, give them scope, treat their people as individuals and coach and stretch them
- Employee voice throughout organisations, for reinforcing and challenging views, between functions and externally. Employees seen not as the problem but as central to the solution, to be involved, listened to and invited to contribute their experience, expertise and ideas
- Organisational integrity, where the values on the wall are reflected in day-to- day behaviours. There is no ‘say –do’ gap and promises made are kept, or an explanation given as to why not
Many organisations have developed their compelling narrative and will now need to restate it in light of changing trading relationships. Some are creating additional opportunities for employee voice through social media, but how many organisations are giving attention to their managers and helping them be the best they can be?
At work our relationship with our manager is the key to developing effective trust between an individual and an organisation. Treating our people as part of the solution rather than the problem has never been more important as we navigate our way through new markets, opportunities and challenges.
To inspire the best in our people in such uncertain times we need to better equip managers to lead their teams. Managers at all levels need to be authentic, to really listen to employees, encourage employees to invest in their own future by being part of the decision making process by offering ideas and innovation, to praise effort and good work and to provide support and coaching when a little help is needed.
Our productivity and engagement gap will only close when all our managers place the highest value on our people, value their diverse backgrounds, experience and expertise, develop their capability and professionalism, treat them as individuals, nurture each one and form them into high performing teams.
We have many great managers in the UK. As we move forward in our new relationship with Europe and the rest of the world markets, let’s make closing the productivity and engagement gap our first priority and give British managers the freedom and support they crave to do a great job for British business at home and overseas.
If you are interested in learning more about how to improve engagement and productivity where you work have a look around the rest of our website.
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