For our session on ‘Leading Your Team to Success’, we were delighted to be joined by our panel:
- Carolyn Connery, Relationship Manager at CMI
- Elena Kennedy, Associate CIPD – Stress Management Society
- Kay Thompson-Barker, Director of Sea Light Development
- Helen Kerrigan ACA – Director of Future Finance Training
- Luke Taylor – Partner at Smailes Goldie
Following on from our recent FITT forum on Retaining and Attracting Qualified Staff, our panel looked at the challenges of leading a team to success given the changing landscape we are all facing since the arrival of the COVID19 pandemic. David Malthouse and Lucy Parr led this discussion and identified two areas that firms are currently finding challenging.
- Smaller firms, particularly those based in smaller towns and cities, often have no pathway for qualified staff to progress. They often find employees leave to join larger companies or take up work in larger cities.
- There are many qualified employees who are good at their jobs but are not sure how to take the next steps to progress in their careers.
At First Intuition, we have launched leadership and management programmes that are accredited by the CMI. These aim to help existing and aspiring managers further develop their skills. You can find more information about these programmes here.
Key points from the discussion
The pandemic has caused a change in how we lead our teams
The pandemic has caused a shift in everyone’s expectations, particularly with regards to the workplace. For the first time, health and welfare were prioritised by the UK government over the economy. For employers, this meant that they were often having difficult conversations while the workforce grappled with isolation, furlough, homeworking, home-schooling and bereavement. At the same time, there were significant changes socially with people becoming more aware and using their voices. This was most evident in the Black Lives Matter movement, the US elections, and the UK’s final departure from Europe. Inclusion and flexibility have become priorities and many people have been asked to step into shoes that would not have traditionally fitted them.
Greater recognition of mental and physical health within the working environment.
Our panel highlighted that mental and physical well-being has come under increased scrutiny since the start of the pandemic. As managers, it is important to be empathetic and supportive. With the lack of face-to-face contact, reading body language has become more difficult. Therefore, if we recognise signs that an employee is not faring well, even if they say they are, it’s crucial that we follow up. Informal and formal sessions are both invaluable. Virtual meetings that are scheduled just for coffee have become just as essential as our day-to-day formal conversations. They can go some way to replicate the social aspects of the office and ensure staff take time out to relax.
It is important for leaders to exemplify by setting standards themselves. Showing team members that it’s OK to take a lunch break or that it is not necessary to keep in touch whilst on holiday, help to embed the standards you wish to set.
We need to align on our purpose and values
According to a survey by the Institute of Leadership and Management, 70% of values held by staff do not align with those of their employers. Making a difference is one of the top ten values cited by employees as being important to them. Whilst only 10% of employers place this value within their top ten. In order for people to fulfill their potential, they need to believe in a firm’s purpose and that they are making a difference. Performance is directly affected by loyalty, motivation, and morale. Personal development has never been more important as staff are keen to learn new skills to safeguard their future.
Moving forward but not back to where we were.
One of the key questions that face us as we learn to adapt to our changing working landscape, is how we use the experiences from the pandemic and blend them with the best aspects of our old working lives. As leaders, we need to consider how we balance new work patterns whilst ensuring we have enough social interaction. With many people now not experiencing the daily commute as part of their working day, it is also key that staff take time to decompress at the end of their day.
With the evolution of technology within our industry, we should also encourage our teams to be open-minded, curious and to develop the right mindset and attitude towards these changes. As leaders, we may also find that our more junior members of the team are better placed to explore and embrace new technology and act as ambassadors.
Reward and Development
As previously mentioned, the opportunity for staff to develop has never been more important. Whilst a development plan is key, it is also about identifying other opportunities for junior employees to gain experience wider than their current role. Our panel suggested that involving trainees in high-level meetings or allowing them to work with new clients can give them a greater breadth of experience and allow them to develop their aspirations.
As a starting point for any development plan, it is essential that leaders take time to understand individuals and what their ambitions are. This not only helps to establish whether their goals align with those of the business but will also identify those keenest to progress within the organisation. From there, we can work with individuals to help them achieve their ambitions but there will not be a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
In terms of reward, our panel identified that there is now much more to this than salary. Increasingly employees are looking for organisations to consider:
- Work/life balance
- Work Environment
- Social opportunities
- The client base they will be working with.
Many firms are finding that they are also having to ‘sell’ their organisation to potential candidates during the interview process.
Watch the full discussion
If you are interested in watching the full discussion on how to lead a team to success, please click on the link below.