Are your business’s teams engaged? If you’re anything like, well, most businesses, your answer is far from a resounding ‘yes.’ So who’s to blame? Research suggests managers are responsible for the astonishingly-high levels of low engagement among employees. That research isn’t wrong, but identifying that managers need to do better doesn’t really solve the problem.
Managers are often selected for outstanding skills and performance, but that doesn’t always translate to leadership. The truth is that managers need support, training, resources, and coaching—just like any other employee.
So what makes a good manager, and how can businesses take steps to cultivate those qualities? Here, we’ll break down the ACCORD model for cultivating great managers, and as a result, great teams.
The ACCORD Model:
Great leaders are characterized by the following 6 traits
Together, they create strong leaders, and strong leaders make strong teams. To understand what we mean by each, and what that looks like in a business, let’s dig deeper into each of these essential qualities.
How to Use the ACCORD Model to Enhance Your Team Experience™
Appreciation: Recognition is Essential for Performance and Retention
How frequently does your team receive specific praise and appreciation? Does it ever happen? While things like appreciation and recognition can sound like ‘soft’ things that ultimately don’t help your business, your employees say otherwise. In fact, nearly four of five people who leave their job do so in part due to a lack of appreciation.
So why should managers prioritize appreciation? Because it’s good for business. Not only does actively appreciating your teams’ excellence build morale and reduce turnover, but it can improve your business’ operating margins by as much as three times.
H4: Here are 3 ways to make your appreciation more impactful:
- Be specific: Ever heard a manager say ‘great work this week everyone?’ If you did, you probably brushed it off—after all, vague praise of that kind doesn’t really resonate with teams. Instead, be specific. What work was great? Why does it matter? Who was responsible for getting it across the finish line? By making your appreciation specific, it will stick with your team longer and give them a boost at their next challenge.
- Make it regular: Appreciating your teams is like a New Year’s resolution to work out more: it’s only effective if you do it regularly. Just as you won’t see results from a monthly workout, you’ll only see the benefits of appreciating your team when you do it regularly.
- Share it with the team: Appreciation has two effects that can engage your teams. First, it makes the individual feel like their work is meaningful. Secondly, it shows the rest of your team that you’re paying attention and that good work is rewarded, which will encourage them to follow suit.
Communication: The Key to Engagement
Communication is essential for any relationship, and good managers are, above all, good at managing relationships. Despite this, communication isn’t always made a priority. 85% of employees who aren’t regularly in contact with their manager are disengaged.
So what can you expect if you and your team aren’t communicating? To put it simply, toxicity. More specifically, teams with managers who don’t communicate are riddled with anxiety, loneliness, and the lack of productivity that comes with disengagement.
When you practice a style of communication that is punctuated with consistency, active listening, and honesty, you build a solid foundation for team-wide trust and performance.
Communication from a good manager and healthy team has the following features:
- Consistency: If you’re only communicating with your team when things are about to fall off the rails or when things are sailing smoothly, it can increase your team’s level of stress and anxiety. To combat this, make communication—both team-wide and one-on-one—consistent.
- Listening: When we think of communicating, we typically think of speaking or sending messages. But listening is an equally important component of communication. As a manager, it’s important to listen actively, and turn what you learn from each conversation into actionable insights. When you do this, your teams will feel heard and know that their input is valued.
- Honesty: Communication needs to be honest. When it’s not, it can damage trust, which ultimately results in disengaged teams and lowered productivity.
Connection: Building Trust
Connection and communication cultivate a true Team Experience™ by building deeper bonds between employees. In the world of modern work, where teams are often distributed, hybrid, and even fully remote, connection is easy to lose, and trust is lost with it.
Managers can foster a deeper sense of connection in their teams by encouraging dialogues that aren’t always related to their teams’ day-to-day. By relating to their teams’ experiences, struggles, and successes, managers can connect with their teams regardless of any distance.
How can you increase your team’s level of connection? Managers can get better by doing the following:
- Carve out time for non-work discussions: If you have weekly or bi-weekly meetings with individuals on your teams, reserve some time to discuss life outside of work. Getting to understand your team’s struggles and successes both in and outside of work can create a deeper connection and improve engagement.
- Create interest-based communities: Is your team full of sports fanatics? Maybe you have a large presence of knitters? Consider launching a communication channel dedicated to that shared interest. Similarly, you can create industry-adjacent channels for your teams to share interesting information relevant to your team goals.
- Host events: Regardless of whether your teams are fully in-person, online, or hybrid, it’s important to spend time together. Hold regular events to get everyone together and enjoy an activity that’s not a part of the team’s day-to-day work.
Together, connection and communication build the psychological safety that allows your team to perform at their best. When your teams are connected and communicate well, they’re more engaged and can trust each other. The result? Better performance.
Ownership: Fostering Workplace Autonomy
One area many managers struggle in is that of motivation. The trouble comes from the fact that motivation is a temporary crutch, but can never lead to the long-term results a team needs for sustainable success. A more effective substitute for motivation is ownership or autonomy.
Autonomy is an essential human need—without it, it’s easy for employees to feel trapped and stifled by their managers. In fact, many of the ways managers and work exhaust employees can be tied directly to their level of autonomy on the job.
H4: Here’s how you can increase your teams’ level of ownership:
- Align team members’ talents with goals: When a team member is working toward a goal they care about and know they can influence, they’ll have the confidence to take ownership of it.
- Encourage learning: And don’t stop with just learning—encourage your team to take what they’ve learned and apply it to their role.
- Give feedback: To be fair, taking ownership can be nerve-racking, and it can even lead to impostor syndrome. By giving useful, constructive feedback, you can help employees grow their confidence as they continue to take ownership of their own work.
When managers take their hands off the reins and let employees take control, it leads to a more fulfilling and engaging work experience. Not only does it increase engagement and employee satisfaction, but an increased sense of ownership among teams leads to higher productivity.
Respect: The Baseline for Conflict Resolution
How do you handle conflicts in the workplace as a manager? There is, of course, no simple answer, but conflict can fracture the trust and connection that have taken so long to build. Without a baseline of respect, seemingly benign conflicts can ultimately lead to disengagement and turnover.
As society is in many ways more fragmented and divided than ever, developing respect in your teams is a key to success. Not only do appreciation, communication, connection, and ownership create a level of psychological safety where each team member is respected, but it builds a foundation that allows your team to move beyond conflicts.
Direction: Create a Unified Roadmap
Finally, good managers provide direction. It’s vital not to confuse direction with directions: directions are instructions, whereas direction is a North Star that guides your team's work. Why does the distinction matter?
Well, a manager who gives directions can be inspiring, fair, and communicative. They can do everything right, but they’ll never be able to get full buy-in from their teams. On the other hand, a leader who provides direction understands each team member’s skills and talents, and connects that employee and their skills to the overall organizational goals.
Ultimately, it comes down to recognizing that individual goals aren’t always aligned with the business’ goals. A good manager can leverage each team member’s talents to support the overall goal, while still leaving plenty of room for individual autonomy.
PepTalk's ACCORD Model Develops a Positive Team Experience™
Throughout the ACCORD model, engagement has been the consistent through-line.
Engagement is that hidden variable that plays such a large role on your bottom line, yet is so difficult to measure. Fortunately, PepTalk solves that problem.
With our platform, managers can increase engagement and foster an outstanding Team Experience™. Our platform helps managers improve their leadership skills and their teams through check-ins, TeamTalks that create that all-important psychological safety and connection, and our dashboard that contextualizes how your teams are doing.
When managers have the tools and knowledge to build better, more-engaged teams, businesses can see improvements like higher productivity, great ROI, and significantly lower turnover.