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4 Ways To Send The Elevator Back Down & Why It Matters To Keep Doing It by Bonnie Low-Kramen
September 2022 for HR.com
No one gets to wherever they are alone. No one.
The remote workplace can feel mighty lonely these days, can’t it? While it is super convenient to work from home, it is also isolating and a little disorienting. Months into this new-ish work schedule, many home workers are reporting that they need to see people in person and are choosing to go into the office, if they even get that choice. Mental health issues like depression are raising their heads.
What we realize as humans is that we need one another. We yearn for the connection that comes from being in a room together. Real connection, not just one with five bars.
Here are 4 ways to maintain strong and real connections with your work colleagues. It’s about sending the elevator back down and to keep doing it. Here’s what I mean.
Sending the elevator back down is rooted in the idea that we make it our business to know our colleagues and support them to succeed with intention and without keeping score. We look at their resumes and review LinkedIn profiles to find areas of subject matter expertise, education, and interests. We talk with them regularly.
1. Give a shout-out in a meeting to a colleague who is present.
Whether at an in-person or virtual meeting, make an announcement. “Before we begin, I want to thank Shelly for the great job she did on the XYZ project last week. It was a big success and we had ABC outcome. Well done!” Specificity matters when you do this. Public kudos are powerful confidence builders and encourage mentorship between colleagues. It also builds rapport and reinforces the company culture.
2. Give a shout-out in a meeting about a colleague who is not present.
“I just want everyone to know what a terrific job Robert is doing in his new role. I think we ought to involve him in leading other XYZ projects. Clearly, he has skills that we have just begun to tap.” Since the remote world of work can make some staffers literally invisible, it will require overt diligence to make sure your team is aware of everyone’s contributions. The results for Robert will be that he knows his work matters and is being recognized and respected for it.
3. Be generous with 1:1 praise, encouragement, and feedback.
The thing all staff wants is regular feedback so this strategy is effective with staff at any level but particularly important with newer remote workers. Make opportunities to give authentic and relevant encouragement.
a. I see how hard you are working and others do too. Way to go.
b. Thank you for going above and beyond. It matters.
c. Your work is getting better and better. Is there anything you particularly are eager to focus on?
d. There is a training budget allotted for your role. What kind of class or workshop are you interested in taking?
The result of this kind of feedback builds confidence and motivates higher performance.
4. Give young staff a chance to shine and the freedom to fail.
In the new workplace, we need to be mindful of the younger staff just starting out in their careers, who not only lack experience but self-confidence. Many will only know their colleagues through a webcam and what they look like only from the shoulders up.
Offer them an opportunity to work on a project that will highlight their PowerPoint design skills or event planning abilities. Say, “I’m leading this project and I think your creative talent in XYZ would really help us. I’ve chosen you to join the team. Let me tell you what’s involved.” When they stumble, be ready with constructive feedback with ideas about how it can be better next time.
Ground Floor Please!
Sending the elevator back down not only demonstrates your leadership, but also your sensitivity and empathy to what others are experiencing in our new world of work. Remember that those people who are coming up in the elevator are the future leaders and the pipeline to other roles.
In the remote workplace, the staff of the world needs ways to stay strongly connected to one another. To build a culture with an expectation of sending the elevator back down again and again and again is to ensure loyalty, high productivity, and build rock solid employee retention.
It is useful to remember that no one gets to wherever they are, alone. No one. We are all standing on the shoulders of someone who sent the elevator down for us. Everyone needs a chance and someone to recognize their potential. Didn’t you?