On a recent afternoon, I had a few minutes to kill before a meeting, so I took a stroll around our new company headquarters to take in the sights and sounds. I was amazed at the amount of energy, engagement and collaboration I saw. It made me proud.
You may have heard the saying that a company is only as good as its people. Well, I’m a firm believer in that. We would not be where we are today—not even close—without the dedicated men and women who show up and bring their ‘A’ game to work every day.
It’s simple really: if your colleagues are happy and engaged at work, your company is in a position to succeed and build for the future. I strive every day to be the best leader I can be, and it’s a constant learning process. But one thing I do know is that if you want engaged workers, you need to focus on being a good leader first.
If you ask employees what’s important to them in a leader, they’ll say they want appreciation, respect and engagement. Here are a few things I’ve learned in my 25-year career.
Get to know your team members. And I mean more than just whether they prefer coffee or Coke in the morning. Learn about their families, interests and hobbies. To effectively lead someone, you need to know them.
Interact with everyone at least once a week. You don’t need an agenda—just focus on friendly chatter. You know: hello, how are you, what’s new, how was your weekend, how’s your family—the small talk matters more than you think.
Think about scheduling employee lunches once a month to interact with colleagues on a more personal level and keep the work talk to a minimum. This isn’t the time to ask about the status of a project.
Set a time for monthly, informal small-group meetings. Ask employees four questions and then really listen to their answers.
- What’s going well?
- What isn’t going well?
- What tools do you need?
- What needs to be fixed?
Take action to address the issues you hear about. Raise the concern with the appropriate person if it’s an issue that’s beyond your control.
In group meetings, take a moment to praise employees and the work they’re doing, especially for tasks that contribute to the success of your team.
Don’t just praise the obvious high performers, sales growth or higher revenues. Support roles matter, and employees need to know that you—and the rest of the team—know it.
Enable your team members to have more of a say in the business. When employees are given the opportunity to provide regular input about their areas of expertise, they work more effectively, take ownership of their responsibilities and, as a result, have more pride in their work.
When you empower your colleagues, you build trust, and that will lead to them growing and thriving in their roles. If you want your company to succeed, be sure your colleagues are given the right encouragement and tools to thrive. It’s something I’m cognizant of every day, and it will make a world of difference to your employees.