How these three words interplay is quite interesting and could turn out to be your biggest ROI yet.
If an employee identifies with a low sense of self they will feel worthless and replaceable to their employer. As such, these folks are more likely to quit, more likely to be disengaged, and stand no chance of recommending their employer to anyone. I felt this way early in my career working for an organization that didn’t give a rat’s behind about any of us, and they had no problem showing it! An important lesson I learned during that time was how respect drives a strong identity and how a strong identity drives outcomes.
Nurture respect, forge a strong sense of self.
When I was in operations, I was always looking for ways to expand my team members’ identities. For me this was a way of showing respect as a leader. For example, we used to have people from around the world tour our organization because we were doing some very innovative things around person-centered care. One day I realized that the non-supervisory staff were the best ones to be doing these presentations! Afterall, they were the ones responsible for the great programs, outcomes, and data we were telling people about.
So, I invited a handful of the staff to present when we had visitors. The problem? They were really nervous! So we worked together on sharpening their presentation skills. They would come to my office and practice what they would say. We even made note cards together. And despite their nervousness, they did it! And just like that, their identities were expanded. They saw themselves as an integral part of these programs and the outcomes they were presenting on, and they were proud.
How can you expand your team members’ identities to work toward more of the outcomes you want?
Look at those job descriptions, job titles, and evaluations. Consider the committees you have that team members can be a part of, or even better, lead. What goes on in your organization that you can involve them in so their identity is expanding? That their sense of self worth, of feeling respected, is expanding? Maybe they can help teach part of orientation or join you in a community outreach program to help recruit new staff.
Keep your eyes and your mind open for opportunities to focus on expanding identity! By doing this you are not only showing that you respect your team members as individuals, but that you appreciate their talents, you acknowledge their aptitude to learn and grow, and in doing so you are setting them up for success with a greater level of engagement in their work and a brighter future with upward growth in your organization. And that, my friend, is a win-win-win!
As always, I would love to hear how you apply this in your organization. Let me know if you tapped a team member on the shoulder and expanded an identity today!