Jen and Dougal Jackson (pictured below) are founders of Jaxzyn, an employee experience company and are also authors How to Speak Human (Wiley). In this guest post, the duo talk the benefits of getting the manager-employee relationship right…
For many leaders, engagement is a biannual conversation — a retrospective snapshot of how effective their people and culture strategy has been in driving business outcomes. Smart leaders, however, aren’t waiting two years to discover the need for change. They’re embracing proactive engagement measures to improve performance.
In 2016, Gallup released their Q12 Meta-Analysis, a comprehensive study examining the impact of employee engagement on business performance. As well as discovering a strong correlation between high engagement and better business outcomes including profitability productivity and shareholder returns, the study detailed two methods of measuring engagement.
The first were reflective measures. These include pride, loyalty, intent to stay with company, and most importantly — discretionary effort. All important and impactful insights, but like any reflective measure, by the time they’re reviewed it’s too late to do anything about them.
The second way of assessing engagement were the formative measures. These include: ‘I know what is expected of me at work’, ‘in the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work’, ‘my supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person’, ‘there is someone at work who encourages my development’, ‘the mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important’ and ‘I have a best friend at work’.
The results of these measures are driven by the connection between manager and team member. It’s a connection built on the foundations of human communication.
Managers can start by changing the language
The relationship between manager and employee can make or break the employee experience. More than ever, organisations are asking their managers to step up and lead. To go beyond managing tasks and process. To engage with their teams in an innately human way to increase engagement and drive high performance cultures.
The teams of the very near future will be vastly different. The ability to go beyond technical expertise and embrace human communication skills will be what keeps leaders relevant: inspiring people to do their best work; helping them navigate inevitable change; increasing productivity; promoting innovation; keeping them safe, healthy and happy.
We can define this approach as speaking human — pushing beyond typically bland, jargon-filled corporate messaging to consider the way people naturally communicate. It’s an approach grounded in psychology and neuroscience, using emotions, narratives, inclusive language and language that fosters connection.
At the core of good leadership is the ability to influence — to change or make something happen. Without influence, nothing and no-one changes. And that’s as good as a death knell in this fast-paced business landscape.
Choose any heavyweight through history and consider what makes them memorable. Whether it was Winston Churchill rallying England through war, Martin Luther King Jr. taking a stand for civil rights or Steve Jobs making Apple relevant again, their ability to influence came from exceptional human communication skills.
These leaders understood the power of language to inspire people and bring them together, and how to use words, imagery and narratives to evoke emotions.
Use the science of communication to cut through the noise
Attention is everything. Without it, leaders risk wasting time and money developing well-intentioned, potentially brilliant strategies, programs and initiatives that fail before they ever get off the ground. Not because they weren’t good or necessary, but simply because no-one paid them any attention.
The challenge is that life is busy and work is busier. It’s an increasingly connected world, with a barrage of priorities constantly competing for eyes, ears and minds. Emails, meetings, memos, posters, phone calls, messages and all kinds of asynchronous communications: Yammer, Slack, various message platforms — and the socials. People’s days are crammed with more and more. Their attention spans, stretched to breaking.
To survive amidst the noise, people have become skilled at sifting irrelevant or uninspiring information. This makes attention an incredibly valuable resource — a finite one at that. And, like any other business resource, be it money, machinery, time or space, attention should be wisely invested in, carefully managed and never, ever squandered.
Leaders need to take an active role in cutting through the noise and earning attention. They need to draw people in, make them curious, make them laugh, surprise them, tantalise them with stories, visualise content to make it easier to consume, be relevant and interesting, and above all — make people feel something.
Provide opportunities for connection and developing deeper relationships
The same communication tactics that help gain attention and influence people, also lead to increased connection over time. By inspiring curiosity, fostering anticipation, engineering surprise and delight, simplifying and visualising content, embracing emotions and considering language, leaders can build engagement, and better business performance as a result.
In an increasingly complex and challenging business environment, it’s the distinctly human qualities of connection and the strength of pre-existing relationships that will be the difference between smooth sailing and choppy seas. And this makes opportunities for connection an investment that will pay dividends in the future.
Over the years, VEGEMITE has been largely misunderstood across the globe, with Aussies often having to defend the spread and detail exactly “how to” best enjoy the stuff. But as it turns out, Australians have been getting it wrong this whole time! VEGEMITE and Thinkerbell ventured to food mecca New York to recruit Brooklyn Master […]
Subway has this week, officially launched its digital game Sink A Sub, with the first $10,000 prize already being awarded to a lucky recipient in Queensland. Subway’s Sink A Sub game is a user-friendly experience based on the infamous naval war board game Battleship. It was successfully launched for the first time in 2020 as […]
National Indigenous Television (NITV) has announced the appointment of Peter Noble as general manager, to support the continued growth and evolution of the channel dedicated to First Nations voices and perspectives. Noble (pictured) a proud Girramay and Bandjin man, joins NITV with more than 20 years’ experience in the media industry, working across content disciplines […]
Reality TV star, influencer and unabashed over-sharer Abbie Chatfield has signed with SCA to bring her hugely popular and fiercely candid podcast, It’s A Lot to Australia’s biggest audio content creator – LiSTNR. Chatfield’s never been afraid to call out bad behaviour or tell it like it is. And that’s just what people love about […]
CM Group, a portfolio of martech companies focused on multichannel digital marketing, today announced its merger with Cheetah Digital under the CM Group name. The merger expands and enhances both CM Group’s and Cheetah Digital’s ability to deliver innovative email, omnichannel, personalization, and loyalty solutions. The combined company will own a broad array of technologies […]
Independent ad tech platform Smart has announced a new partnership with connected TV (CTV) ad platform Publica to accelerate its growth ambitions. The integration is a major step in Smart’s commitment to building a scaled, vertically-integrated TV advertising platform for media buyers and sellers following its recent acquisition of global premium CTV demand-side platform (DSP) […]
Independent creative agency Edge has launched Nevro’s first local campaign, “I am not my pain”. Nevro is a medical technology company offering innovative solutions to chronic pain. Their HFX therapy has been available in Australia since 2011 and is a form of spinal cord stimulation (SCS), where an electrical device is implanted surgically near the […]
Pinterest has introduced a new suite of creator and Pinner products and experiences globally, as the platform continues to evolve to become home for the next generation of creators. At its second annual Pinterest Creators Festival, featuring Megan Thee Stallion and Storm Reid. Pinterest creators Kerin Rose Gold, Wendy’s World, Henri Purnell, Carolina Gelen and […]