Great leaders understand that we all have lives outside the organization and a healthy employee is one with a balanced life.
As a leader, you need to ‘be aware’ of the personal side of your employee’s lives. You need to see each person in the organization as a key piece of the organizational engine. You need to see yourself and your relationship with your employees as a key component of that engine and in fact, the culture of your organization.
I was reading an article recently by Mike Myers in Forbes.com called 5 Transitions Great Leaders Make That Average Leaders Don’t (https://goo.gl/ylN2q). His best line was “The best leaders understand it’s not a weakness to get personal, to display empathy, kindness and compassion – it’s the ultimate strength.”
Empathy, kindness and compassion. Getting personal with your employees does not mean becoming their best friend or hanging out with them in the pub on Friday evenings. It does mean doing whatever you can to learn enough about them to be able to display empathy, kindness and compassion.
Examples? Interests and hobbies. Upcoming travel plans. Potential health issues that are already public information. Family health issues. Good news and bad news.
In short, paying attention to personal details as best you can. Paying attention to events, issues and other details that could affect your employee’s happiness, health and performance at work.
Put yourself in their position. If, all of a sudden, a family member passed away, wouldn’t you want some kind of mention from your boss? If you were to become seriously ill, don’t you think it would be nice to hear from your boss? Or your boss’s boss? Or even the CEO of the company?
But it does not have to be bad news. What about a call wising you well before a big trip? Or maybe some tips that you picked up on your last trip to the same area? This is the kind of connection that makes a difference between good leaders and great leaders.
So how do you make this happen? How do you get this kind of information if you aren’t hanging out with the gang on Friday nights?
Three tips from me on this:
- Do a weekly ‘walk-about’
- Pay attention
- Use a good calendar system
Do a weekly ‘walk-about’. This is your regular walk about the office connecting at a personal, not professional, level with some of your employees. I have written a blog on this topic – https://wp.me/p4eUZD-DD
Pay Attention. Listen, ask questions, take an interest. Open yourself up to information and details about your team members that you SHOULD be aware of but typically are not. This can come from many different sources. Open your eyes and ears.
Use a good calendar system. When you hear about an upcoming event get it in your calendar, marked to follow-up or wish well beforehand. If you hear that someone on the team is heading away on a big trip make a note to send a quick message the day before departure. If you hear about a pending surgery, don’t ask what it’s all about, just make a note to send a card or touch base a couple of weeks afterward.
I use a calendar system that reminds me about key dates in many people’s lives throughout the year. Birthdays of employees, family and friends are the most common occasion. Anniversary dates of couple we spend time with. Anniversary dates of recent deaths – recognizing that someone will be extra challenged that day due to a death of a loved one in the past. Many are ‘amazed’ that I remember to connect but I don’t hide the fact that I use a system to keep me organized in this area. I certainly couldn’t rely on my memory!
So yes it’s personal. Great leaders know this. Empathy, kindness and compassion belong at the workplace.