Welcome to episode 28 of the Rethink HR podcast, brought to you by bettHR.

In today’s episode, we talk about how each leader has an important role in influencing the employee experience (inside or outside of HR). Using the same framework with a different perspective, can instantly improve your overall engagement and create positive experiences for your employees and your team’s culture.

When delivering updates, new projects, team updates, company-wide, updates and more, using the Know, Feel, Act, Touch framework—being intentional with how you are going to map out the message, will ensure you walk into the conversation with a positive experience. This applies to “easy” messages as well as difficult ones like layoffs.

In This Episode

  • How to apply the employee experience framework to your role as a leader (and when to use it).
  • Why your role as a leader is critical for the success of your employee’s experience and how you can continuously add to it by using collaboration and the framework.
  • Create an easy way to deliver messages in a way that resonates with each member by creating a mini-bio and set department standards for different types of updates.

Resources

Leaders have a significant role in shaping an employee's experience. By being intentional and creating unique experiences, you will have a greater impact. #HR #employees Click To Tweet

Melissa Anzman (00:00): Leaders can create more negative and more positive experiences because they are the most frequent touch point and interaction point for most employees. And so getting this right, taking a pause before we do anything sort of high level or big importance when it comes to our employees, making sure we've outlined the no feel, act, and touch point of that message is going to ensure that at least you've created the ideal employee experience walking into that conversation. I'm Melissa Anzman, HR practitioner turned CEO of a thriving employee experience company, but it wasn't all that long ago that I worked as an HR business partner responsible for increasing employee engagement at companies nationwide. And I struggled to move the needle even after trying everything under the sun, fast forward, past many fail tactics and lessons learned. And you'll see how I've been able to crack the code and replicated at companies of all sizes for creating true engagement and doing HR work that matters work that changes the lives of leaders, HR professionals, and employees.

Melissa Anzman (01:09): By focusing on the employee experience, I created the rethink HR podcast to give you actionable step by step strategies to help you make an impact. If you're an HR leader or one on the rise, who's looking to stop spinning your wheels, doing the same tired activities that aren't driving results, or you want to have a career. You love your in the right place let's get started. So if HR is going to make an actual change from focused on employee engagement to employee experience, which actually leads to results, and it impacts positively our overall culture and employee engagement factors, then that means that HR can't be the only ones making this change. It also has to be our leaders making this change. And many of you in HR are leaders. Even if you don't manage people, you lead the function, you lead your consulting items, like your group, your leader, what have you.

Melissa Anzman (02:12): So even as an individual contributor, you can be a leader. So as we look to take this experience thing further, it's really important that we get our leaders on board and help them understand how slight changes and tweaks in perspective and the way we do business can make a huge impact on our employees. So doing this, like being an employee experience, focus leader means that your approach to overall leadership, not management they're different is focused on building momentum with your team toward that ideal experience. And we do this simply by thinking of our team members as our customers, with you as the leader, as the guide and your team members, the hero, if you look at the storytelling for HR framework. So when I reflect on the leaders that I have enjoyed working with the most, there wasn't a difference of expectations or standards between how they interacted with our external clients and with their internal team members.

Melissa Anzman (03:20): They brought the same type of food, I guess, with this same approach, regardless of if that person they were interacting with was an external vendor, client, et cetera, or their internal team member. And conversely, the leaders that I had the most friction with led in a way that caused power struggles all over the place. Now let me be clear. I've had some leaders that I've had a few power struggles with. I'm just going to own it. I am probably not the easiest person to manage, and I definitely wasn't the easiest person to manage 20 years ago. But that being said that difference here, right, was that they led from place of insecurity and superiority instead of a place of collaboration. Now, really think about that. How do you lead? How do those leaders that you support lead? Are they in the hierarchical structure? Are they all about me being the boss?

Melissa Anzman (04:22): And you do what I say? That's what I mean versus saying, let's come to it from a place of collaboration. We're on the same team. We're trying to achieve the same results. These leaders spoken, interacted with our clients from a place of respect and partnership. And you know, the customer is always right mentality, but internally their approach was far from that. It was a place of I'm right? Do, as I've asked or your, my minions. And I'll take all the credit. We know those leaders, right? So while growing into becoming a more effective leader is going to take time and lots of practice implementing the employee experience framework that I have will help you expand your skills, reinforce your vision as a leader, and build or rebuild if needed your relationship with your team. And so there are four parts of the employee experience framework.

Melissa Anzman (05:22): It's no feel, act, and touch. And so I'm going to walk through how to do that as a leader, and then we'll dive into some more examples. So for no, you would apply this no perspective, the same way you would for any type of micro experience or project. This is going to be based on what you're trying to convey and communicate. So the critical components for know, art first, remember that you are the guide and your team members are the hero by guiding them along their journey. They're going to instantly care more about it is you're saying, because it's framed in a way that matters most to them. The second is to be specific and transparent and what your team needs to know and what they need. The third do not be ambiguous with a lack of knowledge and information. Your team is going to create their own story, which is likely going to be worse than the actual situation.

Melissa Anzman (06:24): We see this every single day, if you're ambiguous, if you're not transparent, the worst stories are going to happen that you could have gotten in front of. And then finally, you want to tie everything that you talk about back to the experience and the company goals. So as a leader, I totally understand that there's several very real boundaries that your company requires you to uphold when it comes to transparency and these boundaries are important. And I wouldn't advise you to ever cross over the line. I am a rule follower here. I make a great HR person because of that, but there is a way to deliver information or hold back information until it's the appropriate time without coming across as a jerk or fake, or the dreaded corporate drone or company person, by going down this path, your team will stop listening to you and you're going to lose respect in your leadership.

Melissa Anzman (07:26): So in so many situations over the years, I've had to withhold company confidential information to my team or share information that I didn't agree with as a person. It's not an easy place to be in, but it is part of being a people leader. And so to get around or through these situations, be a person, be a human. You are one and communicate the information in a way that you would like to receive it. So for example, while it was forever frustrating to the point where it was truly a punchline for my peers, one of my favorite bosses use the phrase company's steward whenever he was sharing tough news, it was his way of reminding us that our personal feelings aside, we had to deliver some company related news as a responsible leader in the organization, but how we package that news to our team and share that knowledge is what's important as a leader.

Melissa Anzman (08:26): If you refer to these considerations within the framework, you're going to be able to deliver good and bad news updates, projects, things that are exciting and not so exciting. And so on with each employee still connected to the desired outcome we want to reinforce. And the one they want to experience the next is fields. So if you have an aversion of feelings, like I may have myself, you'll find that being a leader and having to dig into field part of what you're conveying can be the most difficult step, mainly because each team member will come to the news, your updates, the knowledge, the projects, et cetera, with their own perspective and emotional scale. This is a variable. And as leaders we're expected to be able to handle most emotions. Our employees exhibit generally when sharing an update, leading a meeting, having a one-on-one and so on, you want to be very clear and specific about the type of feeling and emotions you want to evoke.

Melissa Anzman (09:28): So basically before we have any conversations, we want to outline the know, feel, act in touch for that conversation, whether it's a town hall or a one-on-one or an email update, or what have you, so that we can be clear that the experience matches the desired outcome. Okay. So when we're talking about this, like, if we are able to be intentional with the feelings that we're setting across, you're going to be able to more effectively influence your own positioning in the matter, which is going to help your team follow your lead. So let me share an example, which I have, unfortunately, had to carry out lots of times over my career. Most leaders dread, and don't always agree with this action laying off or firing employees. Now it is never an easy thing to choose or deliver the news that one of your team members is not going to have continued employment, regardless of the reason, but it is part of being a leader and a manager that most leaders are going to have to address during their career.

Melissa Anzman (10:39): So before I go into an employee release conversation, I always do a quick four bullet outline of the experience for feel my bullet reads respected as a person graceful exit. That is the ideal emotion I want an employee to feel during the exit conversation. With that intention, I'm able to create a script and review the process and materials to have that kind of conversation focused in the right way. Now, granted, it's going to be a short conversation and there are best practices as to what to say what not to say. However, I create an environment in which my goal is to help the employee leave with respect and grace, and about 85% of the time that emotion is what the employee feels because I've been intentional. The other 15% of the time, I wouldn't have been able to effectively influence their emotions more than I did, obviously for various reasons.

Melissa Anzman (11:44): It's never a good conversation, but overall, I'm really pleased that being intentional can have an 85% outcome of sort of what it is. I hope they feel, especially for such a difficult activity for all involved. The same emotion check should be pre-determined before your employee actions, interactions, and not so that it's formulaic, but so that you got check your own approach and better set up your team and you for successful interaction and experience. So if you have that difficult email to write, what emotion do you want to invoke to encourage action and hint? It's usually not that emotion that comes through an angry tirade or a sarcastic response. Maybe that's a note to myself too. So by using simple framing language usage and taking a moment to pick that desired emotion, it's going to greatly change your communication style and influence your message for the better.

Melissa Anzman (12:51): So after feel comes, act, helping your team members know exactly what to do next can quickly move you into the dreaded micromanaging realm, which we all want to stay as far away as possible from nothing comes from a micromanagement experience when it comes to your employee experience. However, you do want to consider the next best action without letting the team know how to get it done. What action do they have to do? Okay. So what we're doing here, the difference is we want them to consider the next best action, but we don't want to tell them exactly step by step word for word, how to do it. Because when people feel micromanaged there, they're not only being told what to do, but also how, and they are not experiencing your company in the best light. So when you're evaluating the next best action for your team, I want you to think of it in terms of outcome, what needs to be achieved or completed.

Melissa Anzman (13:57): That is the act you want to reinforce holding back. The second part of that, that how can be difficult to get used to is, especially if you're a little bit of a control freak, but trust your team to ask you how, if they need that kind of support the, how doesn't usually matter if they deliver what is needed. So if you provide them with a clear action and outcome, they are going to then be able to be successful on their hero journey while you also let them choose their own path, reinforcing their own skills and knowledge base. So for example, let's say you need your team to have performance management ratings in, by a certain date, your action, maybe something aligned along the lines of be sure to send along your ratings worksheet to me no later than close of business. Next Friday, use the actual date there that's the action.

Melissa Anzman (14:52): What you're not going to do is then provide them with the process of how that worksheet gets done, unless it's a best practice training. So basically unlike all the math tests we took in school, we don't need our team to show us their work. As long as they complete the action with integrity. The final component of the experience for our leader is touch. And as a leader, the touchpoints available to us are usually determined by others in the organization. Therefore you have a specific set of tools and touch points to communicate and interact with your team to choose from. So here's a quick trick to ensure your touch points are effective. I want you to ask each of your team members, the following, how do you best like to be communicated to? Is there a difference if it's critical or urgent next, what is your least favorite communication channel?

Melissa Anzman (15:52): How do you prefer to be recognized? And finally, what kind of feedback works best for you? Now, these questions are going to remove all the ambiguity and decisions we make on behalf of our team members to determine the best touchpoints to use. And what I would recommend is you create a mini bio for each team member to keep handy and build upon. So you can always be sure to get this part of the puzzle, correct. The hardest part of this approach is that each team member may have a different preference and it's not efficient to be re communicating things multiple ways. I hear you on that. Instead, what you'll agree upon with your team is a guiding practice. Here's one, many of our clients use as a team. We agree to share a team-wide information and updates via email and or during our weekly leadership meetings for individual feedback, focus areas, action items, and so on.

Melissa Anzman (16:55): We will communicate according to the agreed upon communication channels. Now this is the agreement the leaders have with the people that report to them, and they have their own agreements with the people that report to them. So each cascade of leadership has a set of standards for messaging so that everyone knows here's how I'm going to get information. We're going to do the batched information or group wide at this way, and the individual this way. And this helps you choose one or two email and meetings. For example, broad messaging touchpoints, and also allows for customization and personalization for individual needs. Remember that employees learn and process information differently. And so by communicating, according to your overlapping touch point preferences, your team members are going to feel heard and seen creating a very positive experience. Now, let me break this down a little bit more, and I'm going to use myself as an example, along with another one.

Melissa Anzman (18:01): So if I want, like, if you're going to try and tell me something really important, maybe it's feedback, maybe there's an issue. And you texted it to me. Like the end of the world would happen for me. I hate tax. I'm terrible at it. I'm a horrible texter. I don't know why. And when things come on, my phone and the little font makes it just so infuriating to me. So had you delivered that same feedback via email or perhaps via phone call? I would have gotten the message a lot better. It would have been so much easier. I wouldn't have been defensive. I wouldn't have been infuriated. I truly would have gotten the feedback and be like, awesome. Thanks so much for sharing it with me. Cause I love feedback. I have another friend who doesn't process in real time, which is totally fine.

Melissa Anzman (18:55): There's a lot of people out there. And so for that person, had she gotten a text or gotten an email, it would have been a lot more effective than if they hopped on a zoom call and her boss could see her visual reactions to it. So just understand what matches best for your employees, create a little bio about them to do that so that you're always communicating the information to them in a way that really helps them process it. So you create those positive experiences in the bank. More importantly, don't create a negative experience in the experience bank and also so that your employees feel like they are true humans, outwork, cause they are versus just having to have a one size fits all. But the point of everything here is as leaders, even in HR or out outside of HR, we are really an important part of the overall employee experience that old adage of employees leave their boss, not their company.

Melissa Anzman (20:05): I don't believe that's true for so many reasons because I do think that it's about the negative and positive experiences. However, I do think that leaders can create more negative and more positive experiences because they are the most frequent touch point and interaction point for most employees. And so getting this right, taking a pause before we do anything sort of high level or big importance when it comes to our employees, making sure we've outlined the know, feel, act, and touch point of that message is going to ensure that at least you've created the ideal employee experience walking into that, and you're able to create a positive experience for your employees. This podcast is brought to you by better microsites with your HR budgets being cut and you being on the hunt for ways to do more with less. Why not consider a total rewards or benefits microsite to not only increase your employee experience, but also deliver increased value at half the cost.

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Melissa Anzman (22:04): Thank you so much for tuning in for this episode of the Rethink HR Podcast. For more information, including show notes and resources, please go to RethinkHRPodcast.Com/28.