Most people that leave an organization do it because of their leaders and not because of the organization. The level of engagement of employees is critical to an organization’s success. Employees check out often because they don’t receive support from their leaders. We as leaders often look at employees and demand results; but what are we providing them in order to help them be successful?
The answer in short: support. But what does it mean to be supportive? A supportive leader is concerned with providing the tools necessary to do the job as opposed to managing every detail of the job at hand. A supportive leader is more concerned with the development of their team instead of seeing employee growth as a threat to them. When delegating, a supportive leader, does not just hand over a task but also ensures that employees understand, develop new skills and takes pride in empowering employees.
Here is a continuum to consider when it comes to being a supportive leader:
LEADER SUPPORT CONTINUUM
The level of support for a leader can range from being hostile towards their employees; all the way to being committed to their success. Here are some other points to ponder:
How do we show support for our teams?
Interactions – This is the most immediate feedback one can give to employees regarding your level of support. Are you criticizing and judging them? Or are you coaching and challenging them? Are you listening to their concerns?
Decisions – As leaders the decisions we make affect everyone on the team. Let me ask you: Are you considering if you should be making the decision? Have you involved your team in making the decision (especially when it affects them directly)? Are you empowering them to control their success?
Actions – As the old adage goes “actions speak louder than words.” Our actions send employees the most powerful message. How we choose to act, especially when they are not present informs them as to how much we consider the impact we have on them by our actions. Are you addressing their concerns?
How much support is necessary?
In my experience I have learned that being a leader brings a number of responsibilities with it. Here is an acronym I created years ago to remind me of the minimum responsibilities I have to my teams:
Training that is adequate. How many times do we take new hires and “throw them to the lions”? Consider that at the hiring stage you are making a first impression on the employee. If this is how they are on-boarded, how are we setting the stage for their engagement and the culture?
Expectations that are clear. A lot of frustration is created when employees don’t understand the expectations that are placed on them. The leader feels the employee is incapable and the employee feels that the leader is being unreasonable.
Resources that are sufficient. As leaders we have to provide the resources necessary to accomplish the goal: Whether that is equipment, manpower, and even the right process. Yes, as leaders we are responsible for ensuring we have the right process and engaging the team in continuously improving those processes.
Feedback that is consistent and impartial. Very often I find a disconnect between how the leader and the employee interpret a situation. Sometimes because the leader does not provide any feedback and other times because the leader is not clear about the gaps he is observing. People want to know where they stand, whether is praise or constructive feedback.