Everyone knows that it takes work to maintain a healthy relationship. Not every conversation or interaction leaves each person feeling like they are special. Sometimes, stuff happens, and things go haywire. Leaders who know their people outperform those that don’t.
Whether we’re talking about a personal relationship or one with an employee, both of these require attention. If we don’t pay attention, issues are bound to happen.
Recognition Matters to Everyone
As a small business owner, if you’ve got 10 people, getting to know them is easier than if you have 100. Either way, a leader’s ability to influence their team requires that you know what motivates and demotivates your people.
One attribute that we all have as human beings is that we want to be recognized. When we’re not being recognized, our thoughts and then our behaviors start to change. Some personality styles can live in a company without it and could care less. But not all of them. Many thrive when they are recognized. You just have to know who needs what to be an effective leader.
Recognition comes in various forms. Some of your people just appreciate it when you say good morning versus just walking by them while thinking about 72 other things. Others require more involvement and dialog because they have opinions or issues to share and resolve.
Develop Formal and Informal Communications
Performance reviews are the traditional way that many leaders provide feedback. I believe that if an employee is surprised by the content of the review, then management hasn’t been doing their job on a day to day basis. Coaching and counseling employees is a daily and weekly function to reach operational excellence. I also do not believe that managers need to be babysitters either.
More communications from their leaders are always at the top of the list when teams take surveys. Spirited employees require frequent communications in one on one and in team settings. Formal structures are easy to install when using Agenda’s. I address formal and informal communications processes in another article to guide behaviors in achieving a certain outcome. A key is to develop a communications plan and then follow it.
Using Technology and Resources
Zoom, FaceTime, and other online video conferencing tools are an easy and cost-effective method to communicate. The use of video is so easy today that even if it’s not “CBS quality” video, it works to convey messages. Using a “minute” video to provide frequent updates or share successes or challenges is a good tool with remote teams. People can see and hear you, which are two important elements in conveying a message to gain acceptance and support.
I’ve seen companies of all sizes celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with much success. An employee of the month programs still works and is easily expanded to cover safety awards and a host of other company-specific scenarios. Rewarding a employee for a job well done with a hunting rifle because they love to hunt is another excellent example.
Handwritten notes of thanks is a lost art. I still get calls from past employees who say they still have the note I gave them. If a team member handles a demanding customer well, write them a short note of thanks. If their son or daughter was recognized for sports, write them a short note of appreciation. This is magical for you and your employee because it stands out today amongst the clutter of emails and texts. Once you start seeing how it makes you feel, it’s doubly rewarding.
I am supportive of leaders who socialize with their staff. There has to be a professional awareness of what it means and some boundaries. I’ve never agreed that going out and having lots of drinks with their people is a good thing for various reasons. Please know, I am not a prude, but the leader sets the stage. If they drink or drink a lot, that sends a message to your people.
People will follow the leader’s behaviors—model what you want your people to follow.
It’s easy to be creative with growing and improving relationships. As you get to know your people, you’ll find that they have hobbies and many other interests besides work. These are excellent to know because it gives you insights to provide feedback, awards, and recognition.