Job satisfaction is an important part of building an amazing team.
It might even be the most important part.
That’s especially true now, as the soaring economy has changed the game in today’s job market. There are plenty of opportunities for experienced professionals who want to achieve more – they don’t have to wait for a recruiter to reach out.
If you wake up to find your best talent flew the coop, job satisfaction is probably why.
Here’s how to make things better:
1. Listen to Ideas Across the Enterprise
People are more likely to feel invested – in a process, a team, or an organization – when they’ve had a hand in building it. That’s why you should never restrict problem-solving to executives. Not all perspectives are equal, but good ideas can come from anyone.
“Big tent” decision-making means giving everyone the opportunity to stay informed about your big picture objectives. Then, make it easy for them to weigh in with their thoughts, whether that means an “open door” policy, a suggestion box, or an online feedback system.
The same approach should extend to issues that cause friction and reduce productivity. When teams have avenues to deal with these issues constructively, they do. When they don’t, they vote with their feet. And before you know it, a trickle of departures can become a flood.
2. Provide Clear, Actionable Feedback
Just about every enterprise provides employee evaluations – but most of them, well, suck.
Evaluations can be awesome tools for building your strengths and addressing your weaknesses. After all, even people with a lot of self-knowledge have blind spots. An outside opinion might be just what it takes to move forward and break through patterns that are holding you back.
On the other hand, an evaluation can be vague, confusing, upsetting, or contradictory.
Feedback that boosts job satisfaction is:
- Timely: Feedback should follow the precipitating event as close as possible.
- Frequent: Feedback should happen enough so a pattern of growth can be seen.
- Clear: Feedback should stick to what matters most and avoid drifting off track.
- Actionable: Feedback should focus on what’s in a person’s sphere of influence.
When feasible, organizations will get the most mileage from a “one on one” approach to feedback, with brief weekly or biweekly meetings. This ensures relevant, fresh feedback will be available. It also helps build rapport between team members and their immediate supervisors.
3. Support Your People in Developing Their Skills
In the Great Recession, many enterprises pulled back on their talent development investment.
The logic (such as it was) went like this: Hiring someone new is costly and time-consuming, and losing key talent to the competition is even worse. Investing in talent development means that team members can look for better positions elsewhere as their skills grow.
There are some obvious problems with this:
- It builds in the assumption that team members are already unhappy with their jobs.
- It restricts the opportunities for staff to contribute more by learning and growing.
But the biggest issue is strategic: Investing in people means they’ll invest in you.
Organizations that are willing to help their personnel evolve and improve will win greater loyalty than those who don’t. No matter what the economy is like, employment decisions aren’t just “dog eat dog” – people remember those who have helped them along the way.
Talent development can be baked into an organization in many ways:
- Put someone in charge of talent development and have internal skill-building groups.
- Provide tuition support for team members who seek relevant degrees or certifications.
- Add tickets and travel for key industry conferences into your human resources budget.
4. Train Leaders to Lead
It’s been said time and again: People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.
Unfortunately, many managers are initially selected for specialized skills – like sales or coding, for example – and are simply expected to pick up leadership chops along the way.
This “learn as you go” approach might seem organic, but it allows for plenty of mistakes that may not get corrected. Those mistakes have real effects on others, who might lose opportunities.
Plus, without mentorship in place, ad hoc ideas about leadership can harden into bad habits.
With this in mind, it’s crucial that leaders receive training in how to deal with people. One great way to do this is to establish a mentorship network so rising stars can work with mature experts.
While management focuses on deft application of practical skills, leadership has an emotional dimension that can’t be ignored. Communication, “EQ,” and other soft skills should be integral to leadership training, not an afterthought.
With these four tips, you can craft a company culture that makes job satisfaction a priority. High morale translates into true motivation to go above and beyond that money just can’t buy.