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Staying connected with your staff Featured

12:06pm EDT February 26, 2002
Struggles on the job are endless.

In today's workplace, we are frequently overscheduled. Demands for high-speed service, continuous restructuring, plunging staff levels and larger workloads have made it difficult to stay connected with managers and peers.

As we enter the Knowledge Age, in which the basic economic resource for competitive success is no longer capital but knowledge, the ability to stay connected has become a powerful business tool. Staying connected means people support each other and share valuable knowledge to perform, produce and profit.

It requires time to interact and build meaningful relationships. How often do you discuss progress toward employee goals? How often do employees share new information with each other? How often do you praise an employee? Busy in our own work, many of us are swimming in a fast changing, disconnected world.

Things were more stable in the 1960s and '70s, when change occurred at a slower pace. If you'd told managers in 1968 that in 18 months or less they could increase productivity 20 percent to 50 percent, they would have laughed.

In a time in which distractions and deadlines disconnect us from those even in the next cubicle, successful businesses are focusing on a few simple yet important guidelines to stay connected with their staff.

1. Communication. Encourage your staff to circulate ideas, share best practices and discuss changes in your company and your industry. As the shelf life of solutions gets shorter, they need to capture new information and spread it around to help your business continually improve and grow. Communication breaks through the isolation that stunts growth. Reward and applaud collaboration -- inside and outside your business.

2. Clarity. With so much uncertainty in our work lives, every person needs clear work goals and should know the company's goals. It's imperative to understand personal priorities. Identify what skills to develop and what talents each person has that can help the organization. Reward employees who initiate discussions to clarify their skills and goals, and follow up on their progress.

3. Compassionate support. Studies show most employees want three things: full appreciation of work done, interesting work and a feeling of being in on things. Meeting these needs to connect requires you and your managers to build compassionate, supportive relationships. The payoff is huge -- helping promote spirit in your workplace and improve performance, productivity and profit. Sunny K. Lurie, Ph.D. (lurie@PeoplePerform.com) is president of Advanced Performance Inc., a Cleveland-based firm that helps to enhance employee performance and build productive, profitable businesses. Reach her at www.PeoplePerform.com.