Management BehaviorThis week I attended a webinar with Jennifer Moss. One phrase resonated with me: “Burnout is not about your people. It’s about your organization.” The move to remote or hybrid work has created about 30% more work to get the same outcome as in pre-pandemic times. The heavier workload has created a fertile ground for employee burnout. One of the answers to burnout is to improve employee engagement and well-being with new management tools, and a renewed focus on management behaviors.

This blog post is a continuation on the topic of workplace flexibility which is becoming an important currency in the employer-employee relationship.  As work is transforming, different management behaviors are needed to remain relevant. I like the approach offered by Steven Dion to focus on four behaviors: connect, respond, rethink and model behaviors. This is not just a fancy model. It’s about changing or focusing on specific behaviors every day. That’s where change happens: at work, every day!

Four Management Behaviors to Add to Your Toolbox:

1. Connect

What does Connecting look like? Supervisors and employees connect daily and weekly. Employees feel safe to talk about personal needs to help get the work done. In other words, employees thrive when they feel welcome no matter the problems they bring to the table.

Supervisors who connect with employees have the following behaviors:

      • Greet employees by name every day
      • Use engaging body language to connect with employees (e.g. eye contact, open body language)
      • Know when to engage in conversations in a private space
      • Show concerns for work and personal challenges
      • Be thoughtful and curious about the “whole person” of each employee

2. Respond 

What does Responding look like? It’s about responding creatively to conflicts between work and personal responsibilities.

Supervisors who are responsive to employees have the following behaviors:

      • Listen mindfully 
      • Remember and follow-up
      • Get involved to resolve issues (personal, technical, structural)
      • Challenge the status quo of what is possible to accommodate employees’ needs
      • Focus on work deliverables rather than the style of work

3. Rethink

Organizations need to rethink work. This is management’s “super-power” to set the stage for employees to flourish and contribute their best. 

What does Rethinking look like? Organize work in a way that benefits both the employees and the organization.

To embody a rethinking approach, supervisors should consider the following actions:

      • Give employees a level of self-control on work priorities and time management
      • Look for accommodations but not at the expense of productivity
      • Consider the different ways we can be flexible in the workplace
      • Prioritize short-term and long-term needs for employees
      • Engage with management and HR when support is required

4. Role Model

Management needs to look back on their own behaviors. Are we modeling an effective balance between work and life commitments? Is one side always winning at the expense of the other? 

Modeling different behaviors is particularly difficult for managers who became successful at the expense of their personal life. Interestingly, managers think they display family supportive behaviors, but only 50% of employees perceive those behaviors from their managers. So how do we close the gap?

Effective role-modeling entails some of the following:

      • Being mindful of sending too many emails
      • Avoid working on days off
      • Show healthy time management practices
      • Respect employees’ boundaries
      • Be open about their work-life challenges and how they address them

Responding to the current challenges of the new workplace and employee burnout is easier said than done. However, by focusing on behaviors and through micro-changes every day, we can make a difference, especially at an imperative time of record resignations across all industries.