Remote Working has Changed How Leaders and Followers Interact
The daily exchanges between a leader and follower were as crucial as any factor in effectively leading employees. These minor interactions were the focus of much study in the 1980s but the findings are so well understood by most leaders that not much has been written about it lately.
Although thousands of pages were written back then, it is easy to boil them down into 4 key concepts:
- A leader would develop an exchange relationship over time with each employee as they interact — and the relationship was negotiated. Simply put, as the leader fulfilled the employee’s needs and provided opportunities, the employee would do more to support the leader.
- Effective relational exchanges were characterized by trust, liking, and respect born from being treated as a unique person. These leaders provided for individual needs and matched opportunities with the person.
- Ineffective relational exchanges lead employees to perform only the formal requirements of their jobs. Employees did not invest any extra time or resources in support of their leaders’ goals.
- As a result, a leader who was able to develop high quality relationships with most or all subordinates was likely to be more effective than a leader who was unable to develop high quality relationships.
This finding is not just theoretical. Leaders with high quality relational exchanges have shown numerous organizational benefits, including:
- Higher employee satisfaction
- Greater employee commitment to the organization
- Higher likelihood of meeting or exceeding key metrics
- Lower turnover
- More creativity and innovation
- Less job stress
- Better workplace safety
Any leader who improved these seven metrics would be considered a star in most organizations.
The Pandemic Stole Your Superpower
When the original research was done, I imagine that they never would have predicted a pandemic like Covid-19 that forced employees into their homes and away from their leaders. Gone for now are informal talks at the coffee station, one on one lunches, brief compliments after a job well done, etc. Is there any way the quality of leadership exchanges won’t suffer? We know that if it does, so will the seven metrics indicated earlier.
We Have a Solution
A leader’s relational exchanges are effective when the leader understands the individual needs and drivers of each employee. They naturally pick this up from interpersonal experiences with the employee. In a remote work setting, this is nearly impossible and often awkward.
To make this easier, Psynet Group has identified 5 categories of remote workers and a way to assess them. Each group has different needs and drives from the other. We also know that there are more than 5 types of people in the world so we provide additional insights based on each person’s characteristics.
By using our assessment, we provide a short playbook on each employee that identifies their primary style — and insights for improving the relational exchanges remotely. Additionally, our team is available to discuss individuals and groups, to clarify the report’s insights, and to make them actionable.
It’s not too late to regain your leadership advantage or to establish it with new employees.