We all know how important it is to connect with our people, yet why then do I regularly hear in my leadership coaching and consulting work that “my boss and top people do not take the time to have conversations with us”?
To engage our people and for them to be motivated to do great work, they need a leader they can stand behind, ideally alongside, one who is visible and has conversations with them.
We can find ourselves caught up in endless meetings focused on numbers, results and spreadsheets. Yes, these things are important, though as Al Ritter, author of the insightful book The 100/0 Principle offers, we have to focus equally on results and our relationships with our people.
Every business is a people business and quality relationships matter with our clients and our internal clients, who are our people!
Half of our workforce, yes, 50%, do not feel they have a good boss and do not feel they have a helpful, constructive working relationship.
There are simple, yet meaningful things we can do to shift this trend. We can engage with our people through one-on-one conversations. The unscheduled conversations we have with our people when we walk the halls mean a great deal to them. This is when we get a pulse of what is really happening in our company. By checking in to see how they are doing, asking for their ideas and feedback, we can learn invaluable information to help us in our leadership and to benefit our company.
Even short conversations are better than no conversations.
Other subtle, and perhaps unconscious beliefs that prevent leaders from engaging with their people can be insecurity and the fear of vulnerability. Unfortunately this is not uncommon and prevents our having insightful conversations, asking for our people’s ideas, input, advice and feedback.
A leader needs to be comfortable in their own skin, own areas that they could improve for the betterment of their team and company, accept they will not have the answers to everything, recognize the strengths of their people and know that the best ideas are built upon. This vulnerability, or humility, leads to collaboration and innovation.
Leadership is not about our being great, it’s about our helping others be great.
We should try to invest at least a third of our time in conversations with our people. This does not mean having more meetings, in fact, we should determine how to have fewer, more efficient meetings. Rather, we need to spend time with our people by walking the halls, stopping by, asking for their ideas, their feedback, what they need, how we can improve, how we can help them, what they are learning from our clients and similar open ended purposeful questions.
Our people will be appreciative and we will gain a wealth of helpful ideas!
Just know, it is important that we slow down, connect and are fully present in our conversations. Maintain comfortable eye contact, smile, offer affirmations, do not make judgments, ask clarifying questions, and take notes as it not only helps us remember, it honors the person with whom we are speaking.
I cannot stress how important it is to be fully present to our people when speaking with them as they know when we are not fully present with them and this only diminishes their respect for us.
Slow down, connect. We are all in a people business and making quality relationships with our people will likely lead to consistent, outstanding results. Our humility leads to collaboration. Engagement leads to happiness and happy employees do better work. Take good care of our people and they will take good care of our clients.