Matt Tenney, Contributor
Have you just moved into a leadership role within your organization? Or are you a seasoned leader with years of experience under your belt?
No matter where you are on your leadership journey, there’s still a lot to learn, and there’s always plenty of room for improvement. Even great leaders can become even greater leaders when they continually hone their leadership skills and seek out ways to better serve others.
All the actions and behaviors of leaders can potentially help or harm culture, which can significantly impact the employee experience. Leaders play a crucial role in shaping employee experience in a positive way that yields desired business outcomes.
The way leaders do this is by ensuring that they are making the best, most effective and efficient use of all available resources, including the most valuable of resources: employees.
When leaders manage this valuable resource efficiently, they will see higher levels of productivity and performance, which results in greater profitability. They will also see improvements in their team members’ engagement, job satisfaction, and overall well-being, also resulting in greater profitability.
But leadership efficiency is about more than just making sure the work is done daily. It’s about making sure we, as leaders, are fostering a culture and work environment that is conducive to employees doing great work.
How can leaders improve efficiency to ensure they are providing a strong culture and healthy work environment? By following these five strategies:
- Maintain good communication
- Clarify expectations
- Develop an improvement mindset
- Exchange feedback with employees
- Encourage accountability
When leaders do these five things, it helps their teams cut down on mistakes, learn from the mistakes they do make, and consistently perform well without burnout, keeping the organization moving forward.
Maintaining Good Communication
Having a good system of transparent communication and an open-door policy where team members feel comfortable communicating with management helps to build a strong sense of trust with team members.
Having high levels of trust between team members and leadership keeps everyone working together efficiently.
Leaders should be skilled at receiving communications from employees and responding to them in a timely manner, and in a way that makes them feel truly heard. Leaders set the tone for strong communication by being approachable and open to suggestions.
For communication to be the most effective, it should be honest and respectful, mutually beneficial, and emphasize active listening, which is the most important component of an effective and efficient system of communication.
One of the greatest benefits of good communication is the clarity it provides to employees about their duties, expectations, and goals.
When employees are unsure about what is expected of them in their roles, what goals they should be setting, or any guidance as to how to achieve those goals, they could experience conflict on a daily basis about their duties and responsibilities.
Lack of clarity can lead to issues with engagement, morale, performance, productivity, and retention. In situations where job responsibilities and duties may shift regularly, clarity becomes even more critical to ensuring things run smoothly.
It’s essential for employees to know what is expected of them, have new duties and areas of responsibility clarified for them as situations change, and be made aware that the work they do is seen by leadership.
Clearly communicating expectations, through regular one-to-one conversations, for example, can be a great way to clarify job duties and expectations and can keep employees motivated and goal-focused.
Develop an Improvement Mindset
To improve efficiency, leaders need to be committed to growth. As John Maxwell says, “Leadership is about growth – for yourself, your relationships, your productivity, and your people. To lead well, you must embrace your need for continual improvement… “
For leaders to reach their full potential, they shouldn’t just encourage their teams to grow and develop; they should always be developing and growing to better serve their teams.
Developing an improvement mindset helps leaders identify inefficiencies, address them as soon as possible, and view mistakes as learning opportunities. It also encourages employees to grow and seek out ways to improve.
Cultivating an improvement mindset not only helps leaders hone their leadership skills, but also inspires their team members to continuously develop their skills when they model this principle. Leaders can also help their teams continually improve by providing regular constructive feedback, coaching, and mentoring employees.
The exchange of constructive feedback on a regular basis is an important part of the growth and improvement process and one of the best ways to improve efficiency at every level of the organization.
Employees need regular feedback to excel in their jobs. It provides not only job clarity, but also helps employees course correct when needed and build confidence in their work.
The goal of this feedback is to help employees to do their best work, do it well, and better serve their co-workers. When done correctly, it should also boost employees’ level of job satisfaction and overall well-being.
But, to be most effective, feedback needs to be a two-way street, with leadership being open to feedback from employees so that they can also course correct and build confidence. This gives employees a voice and helps them to build trust in leadership, which increases a leader’s influence and ability to inspire their team members to do their best work.
According to the Partners In Leadership Workplace Accountability Study, 85% of the professionals surveyed aren’t clear on their organization’s expected results.
The study also found that 93% of respondents weren’t able to align their work with expected results or take accountability for them, and 84% faulted leaders’ behavior as the biggest factor impacting responsibility in their organizations.
When employees don’t take accountability for their work, a team’s performance suffers. And you can’t expect employees to take accountability for results if they don’t have a clear set of expectations to guide them.
Leaders who provide clarity on expected results and feedback on how to achieve those results, help their team members take ownership of their roles, which motivates them to perform better.
When leaders provide this clarity through frequent feedback, they are demonstrating their own accountability for expectation-setting and inspiring their employees to hold themselves accountable for meeting expectations.
Matt Tenney is an active CEO who aspires to create the best workplace culture in the world. Matt is also the author of Serve To Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom, and The Mindfulness Edge: How to Rewire Your Brain for Leadership and Personal Excellence. Matt is frequently invited to present keynote speeches at leadership conferences and meetings. His TEDx Talk has been viewed over 1,000,000 times since January, 2020.