What do I do with the team I have left?

Mark Epp Mark Epp

May 01, 2020 Blog Engagement

The importance of emotionally connecting with top performers

When making the difficult decisions of who to lay off and who to keep on the job, were the productivity, cultural fit, contribution to innovation, work ethic, optimism for the future, potential for leadership – the talent – of each individual considered? With these criteria as a basis for who remained on the job, you’ve retained your top performers. Top performers are critical to drive change in a dramatically altered environment.

Are the individuals contributing to your organization now the best of your best? If that is the case, now is the time to build even stronger relationships as if you were re-welcoming them to the organization like you would the first week of their onboarding. Emotionally invest in them as if you were rehiring them today. 

Even under current conditions, top performers are poised to be their very best, right now!

Adversity makes the woman, right? Unprecedented adversity – Covid-19 – takes its toll on us as human beings whether we recognize it or not. It takes intentional effort to shift away from anxiousness and anger associated with the crisis toward actions that create more value. 

“Get to know your people in a new way.”

Ashley, 25, loves the hospitality business. She has been a successful front desk manager for Hyatt and Marriott, a restaurant manager for Marriott, and a reservations agent for a 5-Star luxury hotel in New York City. She said, “As an employee you want your manager to communicate on a realistic level and connect emotionally.”

Melissa, a former nonprofit general manager and business developer said, “Get to know your people in a new way. Get back to basics and rediscover what they are good at and enjoy in their work.”

A consensus among managers surveyed showed the following were essential for how a manager deals with their employees during a crisis:

  • Be aware of the emotional impact the crisis has had on the individual: 
    • You may need to ask, “What do you do to get to the next moment?”
    • Remember that everyone is affected by the crisis in one way or another. Even those who put on a “good face” may still have some sense of anxiety under the surface.
    • Be willing to ask questions and listen. 
  • Focus on the talent of those around you:
    • Create human-to-human, honest dialogue. Put your heart into it. 
  • Offer appreciation for the work they do and recognize them in an individualized way:
    • Focus on their talent. Communicate why you hired the person in the first place. Is there a way they can use that talent now? 
  • These are your best, you need them! These are your best, they need you!
    • Ask, “What do you need to be happy?” “What do you need to have the best day right now?”
    • “What do you do, or can you do, to achieve that outcome?” “What do I do, or can I do, to achieve that outcome?”

“Keeping your team engaged is essential.”

Ryan, a fine dining Chef de Cuisine in Chicago said, “Keeping your team engaged is essential. If a cook joined your kitchen to prepare a fine dining experience, how do you keep them excited about cooking take-out? Continue to educate. What can a manager teach that applies to both a great take-out experience and a fine dining experience? Get the team to be part of the solution and contribute to the answer. The executive chef may not have put a dish from the line cook on the fine dining menu, but the dish may translate well for take-out.” The team wants to feel they are part of the solution, Ryan said, “not just be told what to do.”

An inspiring insight came from the VP of Operations for a major hotel company in Hong Kong. He said, “Execution is difficult because of the conflicting demands on our time right now.”

There are unprecedented demands being put on all of us right now, so it is more important than ever to choose to recognize your top performers. It is more important than ever to build even stronger relationships allowing you and your team to be genuine and authentic. In addition to what’s urgent, build in time right now to let your top performers know you care about them, are continuing to invest in their growth, and appreciate what they are doing now to help sustain the company. Have dialogue around the expectations you have for them to be part of the organization’s solution for the future.  

Ask yourself, “What can I do to invest in my best right now?”

— Mark Epp, Senior Management Consultant


Mark Epp

Mark Epp

Mark is the Management Consultant Director at Talent Plus where he aligns The Science of Potentiality ® to each client’s unique needs and support their growth. He brings potential to life through the practical application of our science and enables employees to prosper and organizations to succeed.

“There is nothing more satisfying than witnessing the exponential growth of an employee when they discover and express their talent.”

Talents: Ego Drive, Focus, Individualized Approach, Persuasion, Relationship

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