Like asparagus on the dinner plate, touchy-feeliness in the work place is not welcome. You see it, you avoid it.

Last week we wrote a piece in support of touchy-feeliness during job loss Today, touchy-feeliness is revisited, with a different spin. 

In a discipline dominated by degreed and non-degreed engineers, touchy-feeliness is not popular. It may be politically insensitive to broad brush an entire group of engineering folks, so let’s broaden it to say that most American workers, me included, seek to avoid touchy-feely situations.

But touchy-feely is not all bad. There are even classes offered on the concept!

I was reminded of this recently. At our Beyond Competency leadership education seminar an attendee told us he didn’t particularly enjoy education classes because they tend to be too touchy-feely. He said he hoped our workshop wasn’t overly so but was “worried it would be.” It was an honest comment. Having worked in hospitals and with facility directors, I understood his sentiment. 

It also got me thinking about comfortability and balance, each of which is needed to be an effective leader. Each entails a touchy-feely component and can be an employee retention technique.

Find the balance

Comfortability: We know that technical skills are no longer enough to survive in facility leadership positions. Effective leaders are comfortable dealing with a cross-section of audiences, from the C-level to the boiler room to the patient room. But even that’s not enough. 

In an era of extreme healthcare change, leaders must be comfortable asking their employees an important question: How are you doing? While leadership demands are extreme and closing the door to catch up on hundreds of unresponded emails is an attractive option, this question is crucial to employee retention. Engaging in honest, undistracted conversations is an important leadership component. Show employes you care by asking how they are doing.

Balance: Managers whose work style is punctuated by extremes of turbulence and placidity are exhausting to work for and often, employees find innovative ways to avoid them. Emotional balance is a critical competency for leaders to perfect.  

Have you ever worked for a coin-flip manager? You know, that manager whose behavior changes daily and whose mood is as predictable as the flip of a coin. It’s random. Each morning you hear their footsteps reverberating down the hall, coming closer, and you wonder, how will they be today? Your apprehension level increases as they approach, will it be a good or bad day? Coin flip managers cause employees to leave organizations.

So however one defines touchy-feely, striking a comfortable balance, pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone while remaining true to your leadership roots is critical. Your ability to strike an appropriate balance enables employee growth.   

And to get back to our touchy-feely averse Beyond Competency attendee, he ended up being a great advocate for our class and participated fully with insightful perspectives. In the days that followed, he even sent us a thank you note!

The moral of the story? Have an open mind to touchy-feeliness. You may find it productive to employee retention and in the long run, effective succession planning.

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