The new year is a time for reflection and growth, especially considering the difficulties leaders faced in the last few years. We’ve assembled four key leadership concepts to help you excel in 2023.
Provide Flexible Work Options
As we kick start 2023, the ‘return to office’ conversation remains a pressing issue. This begs the question – which work model is best? There is no one size fits all solution, obviously this differs per industry, company, department, and individual employee. It is also important to keep in mind EDI when determining options available to you and your team. People with certain disabilities, for example, generally benefit from some work from home options, as do working parents and caregivers, studies show. This is not something a leader may be able to provide, depending on the circumstances. In such instances, open and honest communication about what you can and cannot provide (and why, if possible) can go a long way in fostering an environment where your team will feel heard and valued, even if specific requests cannot be granted.
In addition, consider fostering an asynchronous work culture. Async work provides flexibility to employees by allowing them to work on their own time without the expectation that they respond immediately to emails and messages. Instead, employees work and respond when convenient within a reasonable time. Async work helps collaborating with people in different time zones easier, and takes advantage of remote work.
Leaders, like all people, have faced hardships the past few years. However, we have all learned how to adapt and evolve during this time as well. Focusing on these learnings as we move forward will make you an engaged, evolved leader, who people will want to work with!
It’s natural to want to help members of your team when they ask for it, but are you piling your plate too high? Work life balance is not just for your team members! We only have so much energy in a day, so it’s important to spend it on what matters most in your work and personal life. In the beginning of your day, re-evaluate the priorities you have set for the day and ask yourself, what can you delegate, what can you outsource, what can be done by someone other than you?”. It is okay to say no to people and set boundaries for how much work you can manage, or take mental health breaks to destress. It’s crucial to take these steps to ensure you create a culture of work-life balance. Leaders set culture more by what they do than what they say.
Foster a DEI Focused Work Culture
Your team is likely composed of people with different gender identities, backgrounds, religions, and physical abilities. Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives help foster a welcoming work environment where everyone can feel that they have a safe space to be themselves. Some simple first steps you can take include:
- Normalizing pronouns: whether it be asking for them, or including them in email signatures, it creates a mindset that pronouns should not be assumed.
- Acknowledge holidays of different cultures: this helps educate people on different cultures as well as create an environment where your employees know their culture is respected and celebrated.
- Create a safe space for people’s beliefs: for example, having a quiet room available for prayers and or meditation.
- Create diverse teams: with so many different experiences and backgrounds, having a diverse team will bring varying perspectives and therefore set you up for amazing results.
- Keep accessibility in mind: customization at the office or the option to work from home can help make people with disabilities maneuver around their workspace easier.
These practices can help foster a work culture where everyone feels welcome and celebrated.
Build Connections Among Employees
The past two years has made it difficult to see people, and as a result everyone’s social skills have eroded. 51% of Gen Z employees say their education has not prepared them for the workforce because they had few in person opportunities. As things are opening back up, there are more opportunities to build connections among employees. This can vary from team to team, so it is important to find out what works for yours. For instance, survey your employees to find out how they like to engage with their coworkers. Do they like lunch and learns? Would they enjoy an ice breaker activity to bond with their team in the beginning of weekly meetings? The pandemic brought a new era of work from home, and it is time to evaluate and expand different ways we engage with each other.