The latest episode in our Resilience Unravelled series has now been released, Resilience Unravelled – Employee engagement. Reconnecting, building trust and creating value.
In this episode, Dr. Russell Thackeray talks to Shona Elliott, a Canadian who is currently based in Edmond, Oklahoma. Shona is an experienced senior leader in the healthcare and not for profit sectors in Canada and the U.S. She also has a proven track record in helping organisations achieve cultural renewal with a people-centered focus.
Shona was in the process of setting up her own executive advising business helping CEO’s with employee engagement and and goal alignment when Covid-19 hit. She had also written her first book Create Value as a Senior Leader. During the crisis, she realised the book had not covered her experience in pandemic planning, health and safety and infection control. This was suddenly very relevant. She now helps senior leaders emerging from crisis to reconnect with employees, rebuild trust and work at relationships.
Shona feels leaders need to connect with employees by looking at their individual roles in the organisation. She used to shadow employees so she could understand their perspective and listen to their thoughts and fears. Learning their reality by working alongside them helped her realise the impact her decisions had on them. Personally connecting with employees also meant she could bring the organisation mission alive to them. Interacting, getting out of office and ‘walking in their shoes’ helped them all see the reality.
Shona has 15 years of hospital experience but feels that the challenges in the healthcare sector are applicable in other sectors. There are commonalities in leadership. Connecting authentically, understanding what is important to employees and connecting employees to the mission of the organisation are fundamental and transportable.
Employee engagement can lead to better results, increased productivity, improved quality and reduced absenteeism. Engaged employees will go above and beyond because they have invested in the organisation and its success. Leaders often ignore employees who are not engaged so have no perspective on why the relationship has gone wrong. They need to find out why they are not engaged. Being personally interested can help them understand and incorporate their thoughts into strategies that make a difference.
Shona wrote her book after having her daughter. She found it very helpful to take some time to reflect on her leadership style and principles. Using her experiences, she drew out what she found valuable and found a way to share the information and message. She knows that leaders can get caught up and lose their way. That they need to reconnect with the purpose of leading and provide value to their employees.
Post Covid, the role of leaders may change. Some employees may feel that trust has been broken. For example, healthcare workers who felt they were not provided with the correct PPE. Here, work will need to be done on rebuilding trust. Leaders will need to hear stories personally, own any mistakes and put forward ideas on how to do things differently. Another area is where organisations have had to restructure because of a loss of revenue. Where employees have been lost, leaders will have to communicate new missions, new goals and organisational structures.
Going forward, Shona feels leaders will have to be as resilient as we emerge from the crisis as they have been over the past few months. The real work will start after the dust settles and resilience will be a critical skill.
You can find out more about Shona at https://www.shonaelliott.org/
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