So you want to be an effective leader? You want your team members to rally around you…to trust you. I often hear this from executives and managers whom I have the privileged of coaching. Their desire is to create an organization that is built on trust and mutual respect. They want team members to come to them with problems and feel comfortable sharing their concerns. However, despite their desire to create this team approach, for some reason, there is a block between them and the employee who they are leading.
When I see these situations, I often ask one simple question. “How well do you know your employees?” This question can elicit a number of different responses. Some leaders don’t have the slightest idea what I am asking, “I know their names, and their job titles. What more do I need to know?” Other leaders are cut to the core, “Wow, I never thought of it that way…I really don’t know them.”
While this principle may seem simplistic, getting to know team members on a more personal level is often forgotten by leaders as they go about their fast-paced business mind-set.
So how well do you know your team members? Take a moment to consider these questions as you think about them:
1. Who on your team has a birthday this month?
2. Has anyone been facing a family crisis, or personal issue that might be hindering their work?
3. How many team members are married? Have children? Are grandparents?
4. Who on your team is a creative thinker? Who is more analytical? Do they enjoy contributing using these skills?
5. Can you name one hobby or favorite activity of each of your team members?
6. Do you know what is most important to your team members in their job? Is it to learn & grow, to feel they are making a contribution, to feel their role is significant in creating change within the organization?
How did you do? Were you able to come up with answers to these questions, or were you stumped?
So you may be asking “Why should I take the time to get to know my employees on a more personal level?” In a word – TRUST. Getting to know what is important to team members shows that you believe they are valuable and worth knowing. When a leader takes the time to invest in team members on a more personal level it shows that the leader cares about who their employees “are,” not just what they “do.”
Once a leader is able to build a foundation of trust with employees it is the start of honest and open communication and creates a work environment in which everyone feels supported and believes that they have something important to offer.
Helen Attridge is and Leadership Coach and President of Academy of Leadership Coaching & NLP.