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Bridging Expectation Gaps Between You and Your Team

leadership transition Mar 08, 2023

-By Sophie Pinkoski

As many organizations continue to adapt how they work, the disconnect between leader priorities and their team members’ needs has become more apparent than ever. According to a report by Gartner, there is a “significant dissonance between employee and executive sentiment”. For instance, they found that while 75% of leaders felt they took their team members’ perspective on board, only 45% of individuals felt heard. Meanwhile, 77% of leaders felt they were part of something important compared to 59% of workers, with a less clear sense of purpose.

While this dissonance comes from vastly different perspectives, these experiences certainly don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

After three years of living through a pandemic, individuals have come to prioritize their families and mental wellbeing to avoid the risk of potentially burning out. To achieve true success, each team member needs to be seen as a whole person who has individual needs. Leaders, even when focused on achieving performance targets, can drive momentum through the use of an empathetic approach. The key, therefore, is to balance the human relational mode with this focus on reaching peak performance.

So, what can be done to properly align leaders and their team’s perspectives to prepare an ideal return to office or hybrid workplace plan?

Include your team in the planning process – According to HRReporter, two thirds of leaders haven’t been including their team in planning their organization’s latest return to office. Sheela Subramanian, Vice President of Future Forum at Stack observes that individuals “want to be involved in the process. They don’t want to be shut out until the plans are completely finalized”.

Inclusivity in the planning process is key to maintaining your team’s engagement.

Subramanian goes on to state that “if you feel like you know what’s going on and your executives are being transparent with you, you’re more excited about staying and being part of the future”. Having open conversations concerning change as early in the planning process as possible is essential for getting everyone aligned.

Allow a diverse range of perspectives into the discussion to best understand everyone’s needs and update your return to office plans or hybrid workplace plans accordingly.

Define work efficiency like you would your objectives Mission, vision, and values are at the forefront of any organization. These are clearly defined to align your team toward a unified goal. Efficiency should be treated the same way.

As a leader, you should be able to be a living, breathing example of what efficient work looks like.

If you can define proper work efficiency to your team, they have a more concrete idea of how it can be achieved.

Invest in tools and resources to empower remote and hybrid workers – Once your team knows what efficiency looks like, they can start properly identifying what they need to achieve it. This is crucial, as the most common challenge team members face is a lack of tools and resources for effective productivity. When resource requests are made, especially for remote workers, the language being used may not fully express the urgency of the situation to their leader.

When many individuals work from outside of the physical office, these resources shouldn’t merely be a request, but a requirement.

A return to office may be an easy way to ensure your team has access to resources, but setting them up for success in a remote setting should be of equal importance, given the flexibility this offers your team to make choices that best suit their working style.  In order for them to express their needs effectively, they should review their current efficiencies and identify what is needed to help them reach their potential. They can then recontextualize their requests using language that capitalizes upon how these resources will improve the organization’s performance over all.

Your team deserves a supportive, inspiring leader who empowers them by giving them the resources they need to succeed.

When you can express your faith in your team to achieve their maximum potential through your actions, your team will appreciate that you have their best interests at heart.

Combining that compassionate human side that validates their needs with directly addressing work efficiencies will better align you and your team and build a culture of transparency and trust.


Further Reading:

Bridging the Gap Between Workers, C-Suite on  Return to Work, HRReporter

Bridging the Gap Between Leadership and People, Sanctus

Bridging the Gap Between Employee Expectation and Workplace Realities, HRTech Cube

How Organizations Can Bridge the Leadership Gap, CXOToday

‘Great Attrition’, or ‘Great Attraction’? The Choice is Yours, McKinsey

Preventing Proximity Bias in a Hybrid  Workplace, SHRM

How to Keep Remote Employees Engaged, Qualtrics

Canadians Concerned About Post-Pandemic Proximity Bias, ADP

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