Senior employees have the onus of making decisions that impact employees under them, even though they are usually at a distance from the conflicts that arise in the routine of these employees. That which is right for the company and that which makes employees happy are often not mutually exclusive. Further employee feedbacks often present the aggregate, implying that accuracy when decision-making often becomes difficult.
As a consequence, many senior leaders develop a fear that employees might view them as unfeeling or uncaring. Subsequently, they start internalizing the unhappiness of their employees. This can cause deliberation over actions and is harmful to the company. Therefore, senior leaders need to find the right balance between deciding what is best for the company and what satisfies the employees. Particular shifts in the mindset of the leaders are necessary when forming strategies for employee well-being within the company.
Collective Purpose Over Individual Happiness
Senior leaders are prone to take it to heart when they find out that employees are unhappy. They do not take into account that managers and supervisors influence the satisfaction of employees more directly and are better equipped to deal with conflicts related to their interests. As leaders move to higher positions, the most significant contribution they can make is to provide a sense of purpose throughout the company. When employees, as individuals, are able to connect to the purpose of the organization, they become happier and more engaged with the company. Senior leadership is in a unique position to provide this opportunity to them.
The Road from Engagement to Ownership
While perks such as free lunches and gym memberships improve employee experience, they don’t impact employee engagement, in the long run. Rather, senior leaders should focus on creating an inclusive work environment, wherein each employee can contribute to the maximum of their potential. By allowing people to directly participate in decision-making that impacts their work, they are granted ownership of the self, thereby increasing their engagement.
Employees need the leadership to deliver consistent messages and work on major initiatives. Thus, micromanaging has to go, and employees have to gain increased ownership in their positions within the company. Instead of searching for quick-fix, the senior member in leadership positions has to re-evaluate and reshape their organization to improve the work-life of the employees.
Visibility Over Promotability
Feeling that one is stuck in a job can cause significant stress and unhappiness in the employees. Usually, employees believe that the senior leadership possesses the power to help them out of the stagnation of their professional life. The chance to express a concern regarding the stagnant state does more harm than good, as it increases the expectations of the employees significantly. While skip-level meetings, wherein senior leaders meet employees quite junior to their position, might seem a good idea to remain grounded, it ends up creating unrealistic expectations for improvement. Executives cannot deal with conflicts such as these without overstepping the direct authority of the employees, mainly their supervisors and managers.
This is not to negate the value of meetings between junior employees and senior leadership, as such sessions are important to learn leadership skills and mentorship. However, senior leaders cannot realistically address each issue that pertains to the career development of each individual employee.
However, they stand in the unique position to offer junior employees, who contribute significantly to the growth of the company, a chance at visibility in front of the higher-ups. Inviting junior employees to high-level meetings can be one way to focus on individuals and can also provide a fresh perspective.
The Bottom Line
Naturally, leaders are tuned to work towards that which will help the organization thrive. However, with greater power comes greater responsibility and senior leaders have to understand the matrix through which they can perform in the interest of the employees.<< back to Content