The best leaders inspire confidence and admiration from their team. One of the most significant steps toward gaining your team's trust is to manage how they perceive you. While adopting a stoic, closed-off, and loud-mouthed leadership approach could be tempting, avoiding personal connections with your employees is counterproductive.
A team that feels valued will likely exceed your expectations. Employees who feel appreciated feel happier in their work and take the company's success upon themselves. How do you connect personally with your team while maintaining your authority? Here are five ways to attain your objective.
1. Schedule Daily Rounds to Interact with Your Team Members
As a leader, you might have a packed schedule. However, you cannot use it as an excuse to avoid interacting with your team. To keep your people functioning effectively, you might want to make room in your schedule to walk around and talk to them about non-work issues.
Depending on your organization's size, it might be unfeasible to talk to everyone daily. In this case, you could divide the group into sections, which you can visit according to hours of the day, or, during specific times of the week. A simple stop at a team member's desk or work bench to ask how they're doing and show interest in their personal life and family could be a significant morale booster.
Sometimes, it might be challenging to socialize with your team while preserving your authority. Regardless, you should always find a way to talk and relate with them rather than talking at them. Employees often put their leaders on a pedestal. However, if you meet them on their level and show some vulnerability, you can easily make them trust you and rally with you.
2. Use a What is and What Isn't Working Box
You are sorely mistaken if you think suggestion boxes are a forgotten relic in the workplace. Admittedly, modern technologies such as emails, social media, and numerous apps have proliferated corporate environments. However, suggestion boxes are vital for leaders to get honest employee feedback.
Despite the many digital channels available to collect feedback, they cannot beat the anonymity of the suggestion box. Most people with something to say believe the adage that the nail that stands out gets hammered down. If you want their candid opinion, you might want to give them a way to talk without getting victimized.
The placement of a suggestion box is also crucial to its success. Of course, you don't want to put it in front of your office or in a prominent place.
3. Employee Recognition Programs
Various organizations recognize their prized employees differently. For example, some reserve the most coveted parking spots for employees they would like to honor. Others place a picture of the best employees at a prominent place like the reception. How does your organization show recognition to the best employees?
Your employee recognition program significantly affects the morale of your team. Sometimes you might not have the best idea about the suitable reward for exemplary employees. In this case, you might want to solicit feedback from your team about the best ways they'd like to be appreciated.
Being creative about your employee perks does not have to be costly. You can find ways to show that you genuinely appreciate them and care about improving their personal and professional lives.
Sometimes you can decide to appreciate an entire group rather than a single employee. It is a creative way to boost the team's confidence and avoid making some people feel left out. One easy way to appreciate everyone is to write a quick, customized email to your team members around Thanksgiving or Christmas. Consider that a red flag if you cannot think about something you value about every employee.
4. Ensure the Team's Hardware and Software are Up to Date to Boost Productivity
Many organizations overlook the importance of the hardware or software their employees rely on to get things done. However, depending on the importance of an employee's position, using older hardware or software can negatively impact the entire company's performance.
Of course, updating your employees' hardware and software is not mandatory every time there is a newer version. It could take too much time and money and is not always worth it. For some employees, it is crucial to keep their tools updated because you cannot afford downtime when they cannot accomplish their duties.
For the rest of the team, you might evaluate their importance on a case-by-case basis to determine when to upgrade their hardware and software.
5. Mental Break/ Relaxation Space
One of the factors that significantly affect employee productivity is their mental health. The mental well-being of workers gained sharp focus at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is gradually fading into obscurity like before the outbreak. As a leader, you should let your workforce know that you care about their mental health and whether they are getting enough rest.
One of the questions you should answer is, do you provide your team with a place where they can take a break from work? This relaxation space should ideally be away from the areas frequented by many people.
The most common breaks in many organizations are the 10:50 break and the lunch breaks. However, employees might be unable to break away from work during these times. They need a secluded place to go to forget about work and rejuvenate their minds completely.
In addition to creating a relaxation space, you might want to encourage personnel that work a lot to lay off work from time to time. Some employees work way harder than they ought to. For instance, if you identify an employee that reports to work very early and leaves after everyone else, you might want to discuss the sustainability of such hard work. Let them understand that their habits predispose them to burnout, which might destroy their long-term productivity. In this scenario, a good leader should recommend rest for the employee.
If your company does not talk about mental health enough, it is time to start. You can dedicate a time or day to discuss mental health with your employees.