January 6, 2017 — As a leader, your job is to get the best out of your team. Investing in your employees is crucial to the success of your business, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. In the corporate world—which is often governed by rules and regulations—getting to know your employees can almost seem impossible.
Getting to know the employees you work with each day both professionally and personally is key. Once you understand their backgrounds, work habits, and individual personalities, you’ll be better equipped to lead them.
Below are a few useful tips on how to better engage with your employees, which in turn will help you become a well-rounded leader—and thus improve business outcomes overall.
Value Everyone’s Input
As a leader, it’s your job to make important and sometimes difficult decisions. Instead of making them alone, involve your team members. In addition to providing you with a fresh perspective, this can give you insight into their ways of problem solving. With this new understanding of your team, you can assign more satisfying and challenging projects. And when your team feels that you respect and value their opinions on important matters, they’re more likely to open up to you—a win-win for getting to know them and for building the business.
Be Aware of Work-Life Effectiveness Needs
Not all employees have the same needs—and as such, their needs in the office may be different. Without knowing this, you may misjudge their actions. For example, parents with young children may need to clock out right at 5 p.m. to pick up their kids from an after-school program. This doesn’t mean they don’t work as hard or value their position as much as their colleagues who stay later—they just have different responsibilities and time constraints outside of the workplace.
Knowing this allows you to better work with everyone. Planning a morning meeting when you know that a team member needs to leave right at 5 p.m. makes more sense than scheduling a late-afternoon meeting that he or she may have to leave early.
Once you show that you value their lives outside of work, you’ll gain your employees’ loyalty and respect—the foundation for a great team.
Reduce Fears and Improve Effectiveness
Fear of failure is one of the top reasons why people don’t work to their true potential. According to a recent survey, 13.4% of Americans lost a job due to fear, and 6.1% did not accept a promotion because of fear of failure.
You can use your position as a leader to help your employees face their fears at work and move up into the positions they’re best suited and ready for based on their potential. If your team members never hear, “You did a great job on this project,” or “I think you’re a great fit for this project because you’re so organized,” they begin to wonder whether they’re actually doing well or not—and this feeds the fear that can lead to lack of productivity and toxic self doubt.
Make note of which feedback or tactic seems to fuel each employee. Some may be motivated by a challenge, while others need a helping hand or positive reinforcement to get started. With this knowledge, you can better work with your employees to help them be successful in spite of their fears, which also improves the overall success of the company.
Knowing your employees is the first step in creating a great company. When you know what they need, how to motivate them, and why they work the way they do, you can assign projects more effectively and allow everyone to be more successful.