Advances in technology have changed the way we work beyond all recognition. Having the ability to be connected whenever and wherever has blurred the lines between home and work life. For many of us the two have become intertwined. I know I find it far harder to leave work behind when you close the office door. Greater commitment and understanding is demanded by both employers and employees.
The rise of social media has given employees a voice they previously lacked. They now have a channel to vent their frustration or sing the praises of the company they work for. Employers can no longer control their reputation as tightly they once did, everything they do has the potential to be made public. This has shifted the balance of power and the relationship between the two parties is changing as a result. Today’s employees want to feel valued, have a voice and a sense of purpose. It is much more like a partnership, with give and take required on both sides and this is certainly how I see it in my company.
From experience and observations, to create an environment where this can flourish, employers need to focus on the following four things – trust, recognition, progress and feedback. The bedrock on which all these can be built is a strong relationship between line managers and their direct reports. Encouraging regular check-ins or one-two-ones, that are firm fixtures in the diary are the perfect way to do this. It’s about creating a dialogue. They are a clear signal to employees that their thoughts, feelings and careers matter. HR, the custodian of people strategy, is in the perfect position to champion check-ins and become the driving force behind them.
The relationship with the line manager is the most important one that any employee has within an organisation. It has by far the biggest influence on how they feel about the company and their job. It shapes their approach, their level of commitment and their loyalty. In short, it can often be the difference between loving or loathing work. A recent survey by Office Vibe found 70% of employees wanted to spend more time with their manager. We know this is absolutely true from our experience at Appraisd where the “request a check-in” button is used regularly by our users wanting more guidance and feedback.
Line managers are under pressure. They often lack the time needed to devote to people management and sufficient training to be confident they are getting it right. They need help! This is where HR can step in and promote regular check-ins, providing a clear structure from which managers can start to build that important relationship with their reports. Managers should have the flexibility to set a format that feels natural. It’s important that check-ins work for both parties and anything can be discussed, whether that’s about work or home life. They are the perfect opportunity to say, “thank you”, a simple, but effective act that is often overlooked, but in my experience, one of the best things for creating a healthy and supportive workplace culture.
Check-ins are a rare opportunity to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, seeing what is going well and what can be improved. Having this regular time in the diary allows issues to be faced head on, objectives to be updated to reflect new developments and a clear pathway mapped so everyone’s on the same page. It gives managers and employees the time they need to get to know each other, building a genuine rapport that is so important in the modern workplace.
From working with hundreds of customers who have successfully introduced check-ins, here are my top tips for making them work:
- Talk about recognition, feedback, trust and progress in the office.
- Break free from the old managerial stereotype, encourage a more human and natural approach based on experience and empathy.
- Be brave, take the plunge and be the driving force to make check-ins a fixture in everyone’s calendar.
- Don’t be afraid to fail, learn from any mistakes. Find out what works in other organisations and try to adapt them to your own unique culture.
- This is a journey, keep working with managers and employees to ensure the framework you introduce remains relevant and effective.
- And finally, keeping thinking employees first.
Roly Walter, Creator of performance management tool Appraisd