By John Packham
Finding new and creative ways to connect with your employees can be difficult. It feels like everything has been done and tried already. But there’s a lot to be said about doing things in fresh and relevant ways. Figuring out how your employees want to be connected with and be engaged, for example, is an important part of effective leader communication. However, it is often overlooked with knowing confidence by many.
We naturally make a lot of assumptions about the people in our charge. It’s time to start getting at the heart of the matter of work by connecting with employees in a new way: the way they prefer. Instead of using tried and true methods of engagement to get people riled up and motivated, simply ask them, “What motivates you to be engaged?” and then work with that.
Get and Give Feedback
Besides asking employees what they want to see from their leaders, gathering feedback and providing ongoing opportunities for employees to change their minds is important. What works this month might not work for someone struggling with an issue next month, especially if that issue is related to communication.
Offering employees a variety of ways to engage with their leaders is as important as the engagement itself. Using creative methods, like a dedicated software platform that can be manipulated to suit your needs and the changing needs of your employees, is a great place to start. These feedback loops can provide your employees with around-the-clock access to report on issues or concerns, as well as review your feedback and suggestions for improving the workplace. Using software, such as TruScore, can provide you with an opportunity to connect and stay connected to your employees. Leaders can innovate cheaper (free) methods, too, through platforms like Google Forms and more.
When you work with your employees instead of thinking they work for you, you’ll be able to bring your connection to the next level. This is a great first step.
Get Your Hands Dirty
Another way leaders can connect with employees is to get their hands dirty. While you might have already paid your dues and have been sitting pretty in your leadership position for some time now, it’s important that your employees continue to see you making a concerted effort to understand their jobs and roles.
How else are you supposed to improve their work experience for them and understand the struggles they face? It seems backwards to tell someone in a leadership position to get their hands in there and work on problems with employees, but it is one of the most underrated ways of making a lasting connection. It also builds a tremendous amount of trust between you and your employees.
When they see you trying to help them, yourself and the company, they can easily shift their perspective from seeing you as someone they need to be afraid of in a management role to someone they can look up to and go to with issues or concerns, as well as solutions and opportunities.
Support Employee Ideas
A third way that leaders can make a greater connection with their employees is to support them in their ideas for the company. So often, managers and leaders get all the credit for things that come out of their departments. If you want to make a good impression on your employees, gain their trust, and benefit from their ideas, then you need to give credit where credit is due for those ideas.
While many organizations are working to be more progressive in terms of sharing credit and ensuring that individuals feel heard, there are many more companies that are stuck in a time warp and insist on giving credit to those in charge.
If you want to shake things up at your organization and ensure a meaningful connection, thus creating better working environments and results from your employees, you need to ensure you speak up when someone’s idea has helped your department get ahead.
Learn and Grow in your Role
Finally, in wanting to connect with their employees, leaders must be willing to listen and learn. Nobody is perfect and an open-door policy can go a long way to ensuring that the work environment is a great learning environment for all involved. Leaders must show employees that they are vulnerable and willing to grow in their role – just as those leaders expect employees to want to grow in their roles.
When leaders demonstrate vulnerability and growth-mindedness, employees are more likely to want to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement. If leaders are stuck on the idea that they don’t have to change because they are already in charge, nobody benefits.
So, Now What?
Today’s leaders have a difficult task of trying to manage departments, inspire action, and create a safe and meaningful work environment. Work is no longer just about producing products and services. Work is more about being an extension of one’s life at home and finding balance is becoming more and more important to people.
Leaders who can create inviting work environments are likely to have successful employees who contribute to the success of the organizations in which they serve. Struggling to connect with your employees? Give these recommendations a try. If nothing else, you’ll alert and inspire people into paying attention.
About the author, John Packham: Having grown up in a family-owned business, John uses that experience to inspire his writing. Formerly employed as a Business Content Director, John is grateful for the many opportunities he’s had to share his passion for business and writing.
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