Nowadays, many executives and managers still believe that employees are more productive at their workplace. For Rebecca Corliss, serial entrepreneur and former Marketing Director of the HubSpot group, this behaviour can track back its origin in the proximity bias, to be dissociated from proximity management. In contrast to command and control management, this one must instead promote trust, dialogue and commitment for a real win-win relationship.
1. Favouring trust and dialogue
Often overlooked, cognitive proximity bias can negatively influence our perceptions and harm both employees and managers. A manager might mistakenly believe that hearing or seeing his employees closely would guarantee better productivity. On the other hand, an employee might feel guilty about not being physically present at an important meeting. Generally speaking, it is in the company’s interest to reassure its teams and foster relationships based on trust.
“Leaders who insist their teams follow their decisions without question are shutting off constructive feedback that could reshape an idea, pre-empt a poor decision, or even change an entire company for the better.” Ray Dalio, Bridgewater’s CEO, said.
Trust is also very often seen as the basis for social dialogue. As a result, it is up to leaders and managers to ensure harmonious communication with their teams and elected representatives. It is possible to develop ‘a sense of organisational trust’ through four main levers:
- the consistency of the values displayed and their application;
- the recognition of interpersonal skills of recruitment candidates;
- the enhancement of employees’ confidence;
- the consideration of career management and training.
Often overlooked, trust, as well as recognition, are among the essential elements of satisfaction for any individual. If opportunities for dialogue and the creation of social bonds are disturbed, this can only lead to frustration, to a negative and counter-productive climate. On the other hand, positive communication and the introduction of new agile methods that allow everyone to express themselves are solutions to foster or revive your teams’ confidence.
2. Encouraging commitment through participative management
According to a French study of the Observatoire de l’Engagement survey carried out in 2019 by OpinionWay, which questioned “the levers of inspiration and involvement of employees and the role of the local manager”, the ability of the local manager to mobilise and engage his teams in joint projects would have a positive influence on the company’s performance. As a strong link in the commitment process, it is up to the local manager to ensure, at all levels, the well-being of their employees. The report therefore identifies four main commitment levers to be considered, namely:
- recognition of each other’s work (46%) ;
- a good working atmosphere (44%);
- the development of autonomy and responsibility (33%);
- everyone’s skills and potential (33%).
Caring and commitment have a positive effect on the health of the teams and the company. Like measures taken in large companies and start-ups, it may be worth developing a charter for the caring manager and rewarding good practice. Knowing how to express gratitude, encourage and congratulate employees are all positive actions that generate motivation and involvement.
3. Giving meaning to the work of your teams by delegating
Recognition, well-being at work and accountability are commitment factors that should not be neglected. In a dynamic of participative management and delegation, the notion of meaning at work takes on its full importance. Involving your teams in a common project and daring to delegate in a fair and balanced way can only encourage your employees to get fully invested. The Delegation Poker from Management 3.0 can prove to be a powerful tool for self-organisation and motivation. Designed from seven levels of delegation and created to empower your teams, it is played with between 3 and 7 employees. The game should therefore allow for collective reflection on tasks to be carried out:
- Tell: the manager makes a decision and informs the team of it
- Sell: the manager has to convince the team of his good decision-making
- Consult: the manager listens to his team and their feedback
- Agree: the decision taken must be agreed between the manager and the team
- Advise: the manager plays the role of adviser without taking authority over the decision
- Inquire: the team takes into account the motivations before taking decisions
- Delegate: the team manages 100% of the decision-making process
In the same logic of delegation management, your teams will be able to draw up a joint delegation chart. This will specify the role and work expected of each person. Easy to introduce and a generator of values, Delegation Poker encourages collective intelligence, autonomy and leadership.
4. Maintaining a sense of belonging in a remote context
In the current context and in anticipation of the increasing number of remote workers, it seems essential to establish a sense of belonging. Nothing complicated in itself given the number of tools available online to continue to exchange with your employees. In order to maintain social ties, Melonie Parker, Head of Diversity at Google (Think with Google, June 2020), gives several tips to managers:
- encourage virtual contacts ;
- manage your teams fairly;
- help your employees to give their opinions;
- organise accessible meetings.
In order to ensure remote discussions are successful and run smoothly, it may be useful to appoint a moderator. This way, everyone will be able to express themselves in an equitable manner, for instance on the progress of a project. As a proximity manager and in order to measure everyone’s motivation, you can go around your team members from the very beginning of a virtual meeting. Original rituals or moments of relaxation (virtual games, coffee breaks, …) can be put in place to strengthen group cohesion.
Authority, power relations, systematic control of the actions of its employees are no longer necessary in a company. Today, for successful local management, you will need to rely on trust, dialogue and commitment. Without forgetting the importance of human relations and kindness. Following the example of Delegation Poker and in a logic of participative management, many solutions exist to involve employees in a fair and balanced way. There is nothing better than solid team cohesion to take up new challenges and live more serenely our work relationships!