In celebration of Valentine’s Day, here are five practices that will help you improve your ability to communicate the “I care” message to your workforce.
1. Take the time to have informal conversations with your employees.You show you are interested in them as people when you ask about something going on in their personal lives and you remember what they said. People experience you as caring when you follow up on something you talked about previously.
2. Start work conversations with a check-in before you launch into business. Asking questions such as “How is everybody doing?” or "How were your weekends?"; and making space to listen goes a long way.
3. Make it a practice to ask your employees, "What do you think?"No doubt you don't have all the answers. So, be transparent and tell your team you are struggling with a problem and you need their help to think it through. The first benefit to this practice is you model that it's okay to say, "I don't know." The second benefit is you make your employees feel like they are valued for their ideas and problem-solving abilities.
4. Provide positive acknowledgement. People thrive when they feel appreciated. And, I am not recommending tangible rewards here. Rather, create the space and time to give your high performers specific feedback about their accomplishments.
5. Give Credit Where Credit is Due. Jim Collins, the author of Built to Last and Good to Great, says Level 5 leaders (his designation for the highest performers) are leaders who assume responsibility when there is an organizational failure and make it about the team when there is a win. This is a great practice overall but circling back to this post, it especially holds true when we consider tip #3. Make sure you give your team proper attribution when they help you work through a problem. Find multiple opportunities to let others know who helped you and mention them by name.
The Pollyanna in me wants to believe these practices are fundamental. And yet I know from working with organizations, they are not. I hope you find them beneficial and that you feel led to try one or more. If you do, let me know what happens. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.