You have employee experience superpowers and you may not even know it.
I’m a super hero nerd. I grew up on Marvel comics, reading about the latest adventures of Spider-man, the Avengers and the X-men. And, with the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, I’m a very happy, happy boy. Watching these extraordinary people show the world their astonishing abilities is so much fun. As a kid, you always imagine you have those same abilities – flying, turning invisible, looking good in spandex, etc. and picturing yourself in that world doesn’t have to end at a young age. Especially in the workplace.
As an adult, it’s possible to go beyond imagining and actually demonstrating superpowers. No, I’m not talking about X-ray vision or super-strength but rather going beyond the efforts of average humans. Really, what is a “superpower” but using extraordinary abilities that regular people don’t.
And making that extra(ordinary) effort with your colleagues, your coworkers, your employees will only help foster a culture of community and connection (that’s a lot of C-words).
Importance of Engagement
Why should you leap tall buildings in a single bound (metaphorically) when it comes to employee engagement? Because those “average humans” aren’t. In 2019, Gallup reported only 35% of employees were engaged at work – defined as those who are highly involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. And that was a 20 year high.
In another study, 82% of employees don’t feel that their supervisors recognize them (a key factor in engagement) enough for their contributions. So looking at that, 65% of employees aren’t engaged and only 18% feel adequately recognized for what they do. Ick.
In a nutshell, the standard employee experience provided by mere mortals isn’t great. There is a lot of room for someone, anyone to sneak out from their secret identity, jump into some bright tight clothing and wow them with such things as respecting their time, thanking them regularly and organically, and valuing their input. It sounds very cape-worthy, doesn’t it?
Find Your Superpowers
An employee experience superpower is one that is used frequently and with intent. It is used to improve the relationship between those involved and model behaviour for others. These superpowers aren’t just there to save the day, they are there to influence the culture of the organization with their good deeds. Hell, they might even save humanity.
To help, I’m getting EXTRA nerdy and associating these superpowers with heroes associated with them:
- The Self-Awareness of Iron Man – how well do you know yourself? To be able to engage with anyone, you have to know who you are, and that includes your weakness, your strengths, your annoying habits, your triggers… anything that will either help or hinder your ability to connect to others. To understand others, you first have to understand yourself to see how you will react and rise to meet others. Tony Stark is extremely over the top, but he knew that about himself. He was aware of both the good and the bad. And it made him a stronger hero.
- The Situational Awareness of Daredevil – read the room. That can include anything from body language and how someone’s breathing, to where someone sits in relation to you, to the kind of day they are having (personally or professionally). All this data informs how you will engage and the kind of space you’ll provide for them. Matt Murdoch was blinded as a child, but his radar sense ability allowed him to perceive everything that was going on around him.
- The Active Listening of Black Bolt – right there, in the moment, having the strength to really listen to what is being said to you. To not interrupt, to not let your mind wander, to not check your email or texts, but to be there for the person that’s wanting your attention and your time. Valuing their words more than your own. Black Bolt, king of the Inhumans, had a voice that would crush mountains so he was forced to be absolutely silent in every interaction with full presence.
- The Patience of Storm – take the time to look at the larger picture, and at how every interaction has bigger impacts on the larger corporate culture. Use your tolerance, calmness and restraint to make sure relationships made and nurtured now can have a lasting effect in improving your organization. Storm has the power to manipulate the weather, all the big chaotic energy of rainstorms, lighting and wind…but she is the serenity at the centre. She is frequently seen as a source of strength, intelligence and bravery not matter what is immediately going on around her. Storm is outside of the chaos, aware of it and working through it to move her mission forward.
- The Empathy of Superman – putting yourself in the emotional place of another person, relating to their experiences and feelings and understanding the value they hold. This allows you to connect on an emotional level that only adds more meaning to the relationship. Rather than literally be an alien to humanity, Kal-El spent his entire life wanting to be human. Watching them and trying to understand how they live so he could relate to them better, which all helped to fuels his need to keep them safe. I really enjoyed this article on it.
- The Consistency of Captain America – your values do not waver, no matter the day or the circumstance. Work may continue to throw curveballs at you, but how you show up for your team and your organization can be relied upon and trusted. Steve Rogers grew up before World War 2 and was then frozen for decades before re-emerging in the 20th century. And he was still the same person. Though he adjusted to the times (societal progress, technology kinda), he was someone you could rely on to do the right thing.
- The Humility of Spider-man – the ability to put aside all ego and any perceived status, in order to be approachable and accessible. You’re not better than anyone else, regardless of their role or affiliation, and through that humbleness you are someone people want to be around. Peter Parker is considered one of the most accessible superheroes because his problems (paying the rent, job stress, relationship issues) are our problems. Even though he can lift 10 tons and swing across the city, he’s still the hero that forgets to wash his outfit on occasion. He’s us.
In the workplace, you have an amazing opportunity to be more than is expected. Statistics show that employee engagement and the employee experience isn’t where many want and need it to be. So, put on your cap, or tiara, or boots or whatever you like, and show them your superpowers.