Re-entry and Re-open: Increasing Employee Engagement 

By Karen Delk, MSc, PCC

Many organizations are planning what working together looks like in the future. For some organizations, it is a return to in-person work days. Some may offer the option to work from home every other week. In other cases, it is full-on employees working remotely. There are other variations in between. What is clear is that we are leaving the reset phase and we are moving to re-entry and re-opening.  

Re-entry for leaders will require setting new protocols and new requirements to build a team atmosphere and engagement. The look and feel may need to be different.

Leaders may need to exercise or leverage four skills that may have been dormant for them. Those skills are:

  • Trust
  • Compassion
  • Stability
  • Inspiration

Building trust is necessary to make connection with more employees as they move more fluidly between work and home. For some leaders, trust has already begun as many employees have been working from home and may desire to continue to work from home. Trust entails developing a relationship and connection with the employee and understanding the challenges and removing the obstacles for them that may be broader than just the work. Building trust means you as the leader must be more vulnerable and express yourself more authentically. Focusing on the unique strengths of your employees and being consistent, but also fair, is essential to establish a trust relationship.

Compassion is focused on increased employee engagement. As the leader, you engage by asking more questions, allowing the employee to have more agency in their own development — encouraging the employee to be accountable and creative.  Leadership must increase followership by providing guidance and hope. Leaders recognize that one size does not fit all, and a high degree of discernment is required to be fair but also creative.

Stability is gained when the leader provides structure for the employee with boundaries clearly defined. The focus of leadership is to increase employee engagement by asking more and telling less, providing air cover when needed, actively managing the work — removing obstacles, showcasing talent, and measuring progress by giving employees ongoing feedback throughout the year. Move away from annual reviews to ongoing feedback, so employees know where they stand and they know the standards for performance. It is important for the leader to be consistent. This helps team morale.

Inspiration is provided by leaders who help employees discover their purpose and not just link work and worth to a paycheck. Help employees identify their own job satisfaction measures through ongoing personal development, both with the leader being the coach and the employee expressing self agency. Inviting employees to figure out how to operate at their best is a step in that direction. Following these actions will help employees to be ready to re-open.

To learn more about how executive coaching can help you develop and strengthen your leadership skills, schedule a consultation with Karen.