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Transparency Builds Stability With Remote Workers

by Adam Hickman and Tonya Fredstrom

This is the third article in a four-part series about engaging a remote workforce. Catch up on the first and second articles in the series.

Slightly more than half of employees (51%) rate greater stability and job security as "very important" in a new role, according to Gallup's State of the American Workplace report. Gallup's research shows that employees who have high confidence in their organization's financial future are nine times as likely to be engaged in their jobs compared with those who have lower confidence.

In fact, stability is one of the four qualities -- the others are trust, compassion and hope -- that followers value most in leaders. In the first article in this series, we discussed trust as the foundation of a great manager/remote employee relationship. In the second article, we talked about the importance of managers having compassion for their remote workers. In this article, we will discuss the value of stability and explore how managers can help remote employees feel safe.

The best managers use transparency to foster a sense of both stability and security among their employees. But this is slightly harder to convey over the phone than in person. The most effective way you can help your remote workers feel secure is to look back and look ahead.

Look back. Creating a sense of stability among remote employees starts by providing organizational information and data and helping them understand it. Most organizations track their financial metrics -- sales, revenue, profit and stock price -- closely. As this information becomes available, provide it to remote workers on a predictable schedule. Put it in perspective by comparing it with previous years. Explain what it means related to the organization's stability and employees' job security. Remember, your remote people need to feel safe to be engaged, and they need to be engaged to perform with excellence. Most of us need help connecting the dots of financial metrics, but this is especially true for workers who get their information and coaching from you.

Look ahead. Thriving companies set goals, targets and forecasts for the future. Incorporate this information into quarterly "state of the company" meetings that remote employees can join. Talk about the organization's future plans at monthly team meetings. During one-on-one conversations, help remote employees connect their role and the work they do to the organization's future. Making this connection gives remote workers the sense of stability they need and helps them better understand the company's future and in what areas they can use their talents more often. Encouraging remote workers to find ways to use their talents in areas of the organization helps you chart a course toward greater performance, and it's a good way to strengthen your relationships.

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Regardless of whether the news in your organization is good or bad, employees feel better when leaders are open about it and their manager discusses it with them. Think about how you feel when you only get some of the information. A lack of information breeds suspicion. Partial or too much information with no explanation encourages employees to jump to conclusions. In some instances, the conclusions they draw may be the worst possible things that could happen, which could lead to instability, insecurity and disengagement. By being transparent, you can eliminate stress and boost employees' performance.

A manager at a trucking company found a clever way to be transparent with her employees. Her drivers can't read while working, obviously, and they may not want to read work materials after a long day on the road. So once a week she writes a report on industry conditions and things she hears from corporate. She writes about her drivers' successes at work and their important life events at home. She makes sure her people know what's going on so that they don't worry about what they hear -- or worse, don't hear -- about their jobs, team and leaders.

But she never sends these reports to her drivers. Instead, she reads them into her phone and uploads the recording to a podcast she created just for her team. The drivers download these podcasts to listen to them on the road. Listening to these podcasts gives them manager-to-employee access to the information they need to feel connected, and the relationship they need to feel engaged.

To effectively use transparency to promote stability and security among your remote workers:

Talk about progress (Q11). Because remote employees don't hear any hallway buzz about their work or progress, having frequent conversations with them about their progress and discussing how their work fits in with the organization's future goals, targets and forecasts is vital. If your people know what they need to do, they can better position themselves to do it, which increases efficiency and engagement.

Provide opportunities to learn and grow (Q12). The best managers work with their remote employees to create career and development paths that link their aspirations to learning and development opportunities that support the organization's future goals and targets. When you invest in your people, they feel valued, helping them feel safe. It also nurtures the talents that result in the business outcomes you need.

Providing stability and security requires ongoing effort and intention. Ask yourself the following four questions each week to help you keep this important topic on your radar with remote employees:

  1. What do I know that has made me feel secure about our organization's future that I could share with my remote employees?
  2. What could I say to help my remote employees feel like true business partners?
  3. What could I say to help my remote employees feel more secure in their role given the changes we are facing right now?
  4. Do I know what matters most to each of my remote employees? Have I helped them see how their personal mission connects to their role, our team and the organization's future?

Remote employees don't have the benefit of hallway conversations. They miss the buzz that fills in the gaps in information. As a result, your intention and effort are required to keep them aware. When remote employees are knowledgeable, they are more likely to feel stable and secure, which is integral to achieving their best performance every day.

The fourth article in this series focuses on the importance of hope in engaging remote employees.

Learn more about how Gallup can help you engage remote employees.

Gallup


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