How to become an effective leader: two strategies
Pandemics, economic and political crises – how an organization reacts to such challenges can either strengthen or undermine the prospects for future development and growth. Fortunately, there are strategies that help leaders strengthen teams from within. It is about providing support to employees and encouraging independence. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about strategies for successful leadership.
How support affects employees’ work
Evangelia Demerouti, one of the authors of a study published in Organizational Psychology Review and professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, addresses the need to pay attention to the stress employees are exposed to. This applies to both internal and external stress.
Evangelia Demerouti refers to her “Job Demands–Resources Theory” which she formulated together with Arnold B. Bakker in 2016. According to this theory, the stress at work increases as the demands on the employees increase without the resources for their work doing the same. She also reminds that stress can occur outside the workplace. If an employee experiences stress due to their physical or mental health, it affects productivity in the workplace.
Evangelia Demerouti has analyzed over a hundred scientific articles and also studied surveys among employees during the pandemic. With this as a basis, she has come to the conclusion that a key factor for motivation and stable employees is independence and social support.
According to Demerouti, autonomy and a supportive work environment stimulate employees’ motivation and willingness to develop skills, even in situations where the crisis is due to external circumstances. Therefore, managers should work to find the perfect balance between independence and social support, as well as consider how employees’ mental and physical well-being affects their work.
How independence leads to stable staff
Giving employees the opportunity to work when, where and how they want shows respect for their lives and individual needs. Demerouti’s research shows that this type of infrastructure helps employees get their needs met while developing their skills.
To create a work culture characterized by autonomy, Demerouti believes that companies must clearly define all roles and ensure that there is constant communication, as well as uninterrupted and transparent contact between junior and senior team members. The clearer roles at all levels are defined, the more conscious meaning employees perform their tasks and utilize the resources available.
The roles are distributed as follows, regardless of the size of the company:
- Management – is responsible for ensuring that the company’s goals are clearly set and formulated
- Middle managers – decide how these goals are to be achieved
- “Ordinary” employees – responsible for achieving the goals
Middle managers can also have the role of intermediary between management and employees. At the same time, they must encourage employees to handle their decisions independently, for example to take full responsibility for completing tasks before a certain deadline. Employees are given the tools and understand the goals of the processes.
Such independence gives a feeling of freedom, and great flexibility in work. If at the same time you have a full understanding of exactly what responsibility is included in your role, you feel calm and safe.
How to create independence for increased productivity
Independence does not mean that one should forget one’s colleagues. Instead, it requires open channels of communication, so that everyone can share their ideas about how to best solve various tasks.
To maintain free and open communication between employees, there are today project management platforms such as Asana. It’s a cloud service that can automate routine tasks, freeing up time to spend on more creative work. In Asana, all employees can clearly see their contribution to the completion of the project, as well as exchange ideas and thoughts about how various tasks are best performed.
It is especially important to have this attitude during times when employees are experiencing stress, not only in the workplace but also in their personal lives. Maybe you worry about children who are alone at home when it’s study day at school. When you have your thoughts elsewhere, it is difficult to focus on work tasks and then it is especially important to have the support of colleagues and managers.
The support can be of different nature and come both from colleagues and superiors. The possibility of flexible working hours, hybrid work or health care allowances can be factors that reduce the risk of stress in private life affecting work performance.
But of course there is no universal solution for creating well-being and security in the workplace. All people have their individual needs. Everyone reacts differently to stress and crisis situations. Therefore, managers must ensure that communication works, regularly invite to meetings and conduct dialogue on improving the working environment.
It’s about showing the employees that you care about them. For example, having clear routines for how to address problems and complaints or special working groups for various issues.
There are many scientific studies that point to the positive effects of social support in the workplace for employees’ psychological well-being. In 2009, a study was carried out in Austria, Germany and Switzerland in three stages. Different aspects of how 1852 employees’ well-being changed as social support in the workplace increased were followed. During the year that the study was carried out, it was confirmed that a safe and pleasant workplace has a direct impact on the employees’ efficiency, stability and optimism.
Well-being, support, independence at work – all of this helps employees deal with external and internal crises in a better way. If you feel calm and safe in the workplace, you will be more motivated to achieve results and achieve your goals.
A manager who wants to become a better leader must therefore offer employees the freedom to organize their own work and provide them with simple and convenient channels for communication, both within the team and with managers.