Keep Engagement High. No Budget Required.

These are complicated times.

The economy is…🙄

We are “right-sizing” teams, reducing programs, scrimping and saving.

But also. We need our remaining talent more engaged than ever. We need them willing and able to do more with less. We need them loving our customers and showing ingenuity and holy moly it’s a lot to ask of our people.

We know we need to hold their engagement. Even dial it up. But dollars are tight and expectations high. So…what do we do?

Well. I have good news. We have answers. Because as my team has been conducting Pulse Checks across industries, talent is pointing us in clear directions. And today I share some of their biggest, no-dollar-required asks.

1. Please help us prioritize. Like, ruthlessly.

Teams are drowning in overwhelm. They get the layoffs. They get the reduction in resources. They’re generally not complaining. They’re just being real.

“We can manage with less,” I heard in one focus group, “but we can’t do it all!”

My recommendation? Take the Marie Kondo approach to priorities. Don’t look at the list and decide what can go. Nope. Take everything off the the list, and then justify anything you choose to add back.

2. Push learning into the flow.

Leaders need leadership development. I’ll never stop banging that drum (as it will fund my kids’ college education.) If you have the budget, reach out. We do this beautifully.

And teams are craving it. They want to not just show up and Groundhog Day this thing. They want to stretch and grow.

But also. You can develop your leadership without a budget or program.

There are creative ways to stretch people in their roles without taking on massive amounts of risk. Like…

  • Let a junior person run a team meeting. Take it off your plate while giving them an opportunity to demo leadership.
  • Invite a junior person to the client pitch - just so they start picking up the rhythm. And hey - let them chime in with a question or two. Just to practice the vocals.
  • Set up peer mentors or coaching circles.
  • Invite people to strike up lunch-and-learns, or curate lists of favorite TED talks.

There are so many ways to infuse learning and growing into working. Without formal programming.

3. Just be true to your word.

Teams are telling us the worst offense is a promise made and not kept.

Do not promise to avoid layoffs or reductions if you don’t know for sure you can honor it.

Do not promise resources that may never materialize.

Do not ask for feedback that will never be actioned or responded to.

Just say a thing. And then do it. That’s all.

4. Please harness the power of us.

I keep hearing from leaders that they’re struggling to drive connection in this still-wonky hybrid world.

And I keep hearing from teams how connective they find shared problem-solving experiences to be.

So leaders. When you’re trying to solve the problem of connection. Or any problem really. Harness your team. They were hired to do more than doing. They’re here to help think, create, innovate, give something new the old college try.

Those are some of the bits I’m collecting from Pulse Checks. I’d love to run one for your organization. Could you use some actionable insight straight from the minds and mouths of your teams?

You know what to do…

Related: Let a Recession Fuel Your Leadership Development