2011 was a bully. It relentlessly beat up managers and employees equally.
Now with skinned knees and black eyes, we stand in a new year. We have a new start to positively influence and make where we work better.
So before you rush into the well-worn path of meeting marathons, I want you to consider these four choice leadership acts. Each one represents a counter-response to the toughness that dominated the workplace in 2011. Each one signals your intention to make 2012 better for your team and for you. Each one is born of action: your action.
Hope. The invisible wounds inflicted by cutbacks, layoffs, furloughs and meager-to-no pay increases has depleted hope from the workplace.
You may not have the budget to give salary increases, but you have control over assigning work to employees. If you don’t know what inspires your employees to do great work, now is the time to find out. Create projects or get them on projects that allow your employees to show off their talents. Give them a reason to stay and do great work. Give them hope through meaningful work.
And you need to have and to act from hope. Hope that you can sustain or create workplace optimism.
Integrity. In 2011, we watched too many news stories of politicians and executives avoiding responsibility for choices they made. Perhaps where you work, integrity was absent as executives gave themselves bonuses while cutting employee recognition programs and the holiday party.
Model integrity by doing what you say. Model integrity by having conversations with your team when disconnects like the ones above occur. We can no longer ignore obvious acts that lack integrity. Minimize the distracting chatter and replace it with honest conversation: What happened? What do we know? How do we keep doing great work?
Honesty. Make 2012 a year where difficult or awkward conversations aren’t sacrificed to the status quo. Employees have great BS detectors these days. They can handle the truth.
Humility. The nature of work requires a team of people to complete it. I’ll assert that no one person is more important than another, including you. Humility has a way of putting into perspective the importance of the team over the individual. It gives a perspective that reveals possibilities. It also reduces stress.
There you have it. Four leadership acts to guide you through 2012 — though they really are timeless. I urge you to take on improving the workplace for your employees. As the job market strengthens, be sure your employees know that things are getting better. You can choose to make that happen.
Image credit: alexsl, via iStockphoto