Karin And David’s Leadership Articles
Leading People So They Want to Stick Around
As the pandemic and uncertainty persist, we invite you to consider putting people before projects. Your connection to your people and their certainty that you care about them are more important than ever.
We’re not saying people instead of projects. It’s people, then projects. The people, then the work. There’s no greater loyalty than the person who can say “My boss is a real human being who knows me, cares about my success, and brings out the best in me and my team.” A team full of those people is hard to beat. Here are seven ways to build that connectivity:
1. Connect–as human beings.
Connection begins by being a leader people can connect with. That means sharing appropriate vulnerability and investing in conversations beyond the work from time to time. And, almost nothing builds connection faster in these conversations than truly hearing and seeing the other person. One of the most effective ways to do this is to reflect to connect. When someone shares an experience, joy, or frustration, take a moment to reflect on what you’ve heard or seen back to them.
2. Care–about the whole person.
For us, one of the most touching moments of this pandemic was an intense, high-urgency sales leader who looked at his leadership team and told them, “We’ve got to focus on our people. How are they? Who’s hurting? How can we help them?” Whatever else might happen, his team knows he cares–not just about their results (he does), but about them as people.
As you get to know people, learn about their people, pets, and projects. What matters to them outside of work? How can you express interest in these things from time to time?
3. Consult–your people.
Hopefully, you aren’t making decisions in isolation. But look for opportunities to bring in people beyond the usual decision-makers. When you describe the problem or challenge you face and invite people into the discussion, two things happen. First, people feel valued–you’ve recognized they have something to contribute. The second benefit is that they have perspectives you can’t have because their work and experience are different from yours. You’ll make better decisions.
4. Cultivate Curiosity–for innovations, improvements, and efficiencies.
In addition to consulting your folks for solutions to problems, wise leaders ask courageous questions to uncover micro-innovations and opportunities to improve workflow, customer service, and other business enhancements. Often, people don’t know they have a valuable insight to offer until they’re asked. For them, it’s “just what they do.”
5. Contribute–to people’s growth.
Most people appreciate opportunities to grow. Growth and development don’t necessarily mean upward movement into management or leadership roles. There are many ways you can help your people expand their capacity. Opportunities for growth include skill training, different responsibilities, and more interesting or challenging work.
You don’t need to do all the development work for your people. You can use tools like our Developmental Discussion Planner to help employees take responsibility and partner with you for their development.
Communication is vital to every relationship, but it’s easy to take it for granted. You might think everyone’s sick of you communicating that key initiative, but they’re probably just beginning to internalize it. You can use our 5×5 Communication strategy to plan your key messages. These should include what’s important, what’s changing, and what’s staying the same. And one of the most important items you can communicate is why all of these are true.
7. Commit–to accountability and performance.
It may feel counterintuitive, but high-performing team members value accountability. They want to achieve results and be part of a team where everyone pulls together and contributes their best. When you let slackers slide, you’re telling your top performers that you don’t value their effort or contribution. Help everyone on the team keep their commitments to one another to improve morale and productivity.