As business leaders, we wear multiple hats 24-hours per day. One minute we’re mentoring a future chief communications or human resources officer; the next, we’re texting with our child’s third-grade teacher about their homework; the next, we’re checking in with our parents. This is a significant test of our mental and physical health.
Living in the COVID-19 era pushes leaders to use new techniques to communicate and live a more balanced life while still thriving in their careers.
We hear a typical message that “people don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” For a lot of us, that’s true.
I want to twist this: people stay at companies because of their manager.
I was blessed throughout my career because of my managers. I stayed at my companies because they trusted in me, gave me life-changing opportunities, showed me the value I could earn by learning from them.
I learned something from every manager I had.
And, just as you learned from your managers, those you manage learn from your actions every day.
Guess what? YOU’RE an influencer! I’m sharing three ways we can lead by example to positively influence our employees.
Empower your employees to create their path.
Data suggests that “the real cost of turnover is often estimated to be 33% to two times the employee’s annual salary.” Whether you’re in communications, human resources or public relations, there’s never been a better time to design your career path. And your employees know this as well.
Recommendation: Give your team the flexibility to design a future job role. Talk to them about your career path, share the unique career paths of others in your company or suggest that they hold discussions with other mentors to learn how to create their job descriptions. Your team will appreciate that you’re thinking about their future.
Set and live your boundaries.
Recent studies suggest that “more than half of Americans fear their employer would think less of them if they requested time off for mental health.” This is a problem! Members of your team, particularly those new to their career, will follow your lead on how and when you communicate with them. If you’re a leader today, it wasn’t because of luck—it was in part because you’ve understood how to prioritize your mental and physical health.
Conduct a self-audit of how you spend your nights, weekends and vacations. Do you send emails late at night? Your employees may well be waiting online to receive them. Join meetings while on vacation? Your employees will keep their notifications on while getting a tan at the beach. Even if you have the best intentions to ask your teams to take time off and shut down their phones, people won’t follow if you don’t do it yourself!
Think like you’re the one receiving communications.
I’ve received poorly written emails throughout my career that cause more anxiety, stress and confusion than necessary. Keep your communication tight, solution- and action-oriented with the right level of context to help set the receiver up for success. The most important thing is to think through the lens of the recipient. Do they have everything that’s needed to act?
Recommendation: Critically evaluate your email structure. One example: Are you using subject lines effectively? Use a consistent approach for subject lines in sending emails. Examples include:
- FYI, only—no action needed: “There’s a great case study on Ragan.com this month.”
- Response required by 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time/5:00 p.m. Eastern Time today: agenda topics for Tuesday’s planning discussion.
- Jane, I welcome your thoughts: recommendation for the upcoming launch.
Installing these techniques will help build trust and rapport with your team, giving them the flexibility to manage their family and job and, ultimately, show your value as a leader.
Finally, always show grace. We are being challenged mentally every day. People will remember how they were treated during these times, and—even as people move to other jobs—focusing on the relationship and those you’re working with long-term will pay dividends throughout your career.
Mark Mohammadpour, APR, CPT, CHC, is the owner and Chief Wellness Officer at Chasing the Sun. After spending his public relations career as an executive at Edelman and Weber Shandwick, and after losing and keeping 150 pounds over the last decade, Mark launched Chasing the Sun to empower public relations professionals to prioritize their well-being so they can shine in the family room and the board room. Mark’s keynote speeches, workshops, and individual, team, and enterprise-wide programs deliver relatable, practical, and actionable advice to help increase morale and reduce turnover. To learn more, visit chasingthesunpdx.com, contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with him on Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter.