Recently I was interviewed for a leadership podcast, and the question that caused me to reflect on a lifetime of leading was: How do you show you care for your employees?
I landed on 6 key actions:
One, the easiest and most important is to connect them to the organization and the mission and the objectives of the organization in a very simple, articulate way.
How: Explain in respectful and appropriate language how each person’s work contributes to the success of the entire team
Two, show a high level of trust and confidence in them and in return you will get that back.
How: Explain what’s happening. I think most leaders, not because of ill-will don’t want to worry anybody, so they’re not going to tell the full truth about what’s happening around them.
And one of my consultancy clients were laying off people, because of economic reasons, there wasn’t enough work. But they stopped telling people what was happening and why people the project ended and there was no work.
People saw that the people in charge had stopped communicating and their coworkers just disappear. They began to assume that the company was in big trouble. The company was financially solid, still making a profit, had good sales and lots of potential work in the pipeline.
I coached the president to hold town halls and open the books as much as possible that was happening to give people confidence that the company was solid.
Three, get off your butt, get out of your office and go see how people are working and ask them what’s going on in their lives, and in their workplace and show a little empathy.
How: Find out what’s going on, fix the little problems, be empathetic with people and that’s as equally simple and as complex as that.
During one of my walk arounds, I learned that a young lady working for me had a chance for a scholarship to go to nurses’ school. She couldn’t afford to travel, so the company paid for a hotel in Vancouver attend the application interview.
I didn’t have to do that, but trust me, that the word got spread that I helped her with this and, suddenly, people thought “If they’re going to do that for her, they’ll help me out,” and morale loyalty and trust goes up.
Four, deal with poor performance. Nothing will demoralize you people quicker than seeing a coworker get away with poor performance.
How: Pull your big boy or girl pants up and deal with poor performance.
No one comes to work wanting to do a bad job, create the desired expectations, provide the resources required for that person to improve, and monitor, mentor and support the behaviours you expect.
You are the Boss and eventually you will have to bring people up to the standard of performance or move them, respectfully, out of the organization.
Fifth, have a little class and dignity.
How: People are not stupid or unrealistic, they understand that when times get tough layoffs may have to happen. But that is not license to treat people like so much trash being kicked to the curb.
Even if you have to fire somebody make sure that everyone sees that person being treated fairly and with respect. That translates onto the shop floor or the rest of the office or the rest of the team, or they go “You know what, they treated that guy okay, so maybe they will look after me.
Finally, do the things no one would miss if you didn’t do it.
How: When I learned that someone on my team had a death in their family, I always send flowers from the organization and the team.
The cost? $30
… $30 for a little bit of caring.
It is those low cost yet important little things that become exponentially important to that person and the rest of your team.