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Cultivate a work environment where employees can thrive

A recent Gartner study revealed 52 percent of employees surveyed agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “The pandemic has made me question the purpose of my day-to-day job.”

According to Gartner, “The era of the employment contract, when a worker provided services purely in exchange for monetary compensation, is over… Monetary compensation is important for surviving, but deeper relationships, a strong sense of community and purpose-driven work are essential to thriving.”

The opportunity for supervisors, managers, and leaders is to inspire greater employee engagement by revealing why a job role matters and making clear how one’s daily work activities connect to the role’s higher purpose. When this link is made clear, employees learn how their unique contributions create impact, affect performance, and spur progress toward the organization’s purpose and the team’s aspirational goal.

For instance, the manager of a coffee shop might establish the purpose of a barista’s job role as to make a lasting positive impression. With this as the priority, actions and behaviors can be devised and, where possible, operationalized to fulfill this priority time and again. An action might be to pair an espresso with a 4-oz. glass of chilled sparkling water as a palate cleanser. Most customers would not expect this addition to the process of serving espresso and it would likely make a lasting positive impression.

A behavior might be to share unique knowledge. Beyond knowing the ingredients and proportions (job knowledge) and preparation and presentation techniques (job skills) for a variety of coffee beverages, baristas can be trained on the origin of names like “espresso”, “ristresso”, and “lungo”. This way, when a barista hands a lungo to a customer, he can say, “Lungo means ‘long’ in Italian. It is a long espresso produced by an extended extraction time.” Most customers would not expect this display of initiative and it too would likely leave a lasting positive impression.

While behaviors can be suggested, encouraged, and modeled by management, they cannot be mandated in the same way as an action. You can require a barista to pair an espresso with a 4-oz. glass of chilled sparkling water (per documented standard), but you cannot force him to share unique knowledge, express genuine interest, or convey authentic enthusiasm. Like smiling, making eye contact, or caring about quality, these behaviors are voluntary.

Leadership can help foster relationships, community, and job purpose by showing employees exactly what purpose-driven performance looks like, whether actions or behaviors. And by providing regular feedback on how their individual and collective performance contributes to the greater mission, vision, or purpose of the organization, leaders can cultivate a work environment where employees can thrive.

Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
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