“No man is an island.” This is no truer than in business. Each person of your team is a cog in the machine, yourself included. Every time a team struggles to achieve their target, finish a project or reach their quota it’s down to one or more of those cogs. A team can only function well if all the cogs are well-oiled and primed for success.
Unfortunately, unlike machines, people are more complex. Rarely are our lives stress-free. Stress can come in many forms – financial, relationship, health, work, or trauma. Any one of these can affect our focus and performance at work. That’s why it’s critical a leader has their ears to the ground.
Meetings are held to see where the team is regarding any current projects to ensure things are on course. But that’s just scratching the surface. Clear communication is the key to boosting productivity and retaining talent.
Personally, I like to have regular informal one-on-one meetings with my team. I want to know what makes them tick. What issues they’re having and if I can be of any help? But that’s not always possible.
A good friend of mine who ran a team of 40 people was always trying to be their best friend. Bad idea. You don’t want to be their best friend, but you do want your team to understand that they can talk to you if they need assistance on any number of issues. Done correctly such lines of communication lead to trust which mitigates conflict, improves productivity, boosts morale, and increases employee engagement.
Bob Burg, the best-selling author of The Go-Giver, says this, “All things being equal, people do business with, and refer business to people they know, like and trust.” This is true with clients as it is with team members.
Attrition is a very real thing both in terms of clients and employees, but good communication between a leader and their team can limit this. One thing that isn’t often talked about especially in smaller companies is the cost of training new employees, but big companies understand the costs of training new employees in both time and money can be painful. According to the 2017 Training industry report, companies spent an average of $1,075 per employee trained. This may seem like small potatoes, but it’s actually a $200 increase from the previous year. This translates to a nearly 33% increase in overall training expenditures in the U.S. from 2016 to 2017 for a total of close to 91 billion dollars.
So what needs to be done? Here are some conversations you should have every week with your leadership team.
THE PURPOSE CONVERSATION
Moreso than ever before, people want to be a part of something special. They want to know their company is a force for good whether it’s protecting the environment, raising awareness of equality between the sexes, helping improve people’s lives in general or simply taking care of their employees. Sometimes the message can get lost in the busyness of work which is why it’s important to share just how much each person’s individual effort contributes to reaching those goals.
It’s also important to get feedback from your team on those issues and then taking action based said feedback helps build loyalty and reinforces their desire to keep working for their company.
THE CHECK-UP CONVERSATION
It’s always good to check-in on your team to make sure everyone’s on the same page, that things are headed in the right direction and that everything’s ok outside of the office. You need to know if something’s up and nip it in the bud early on to avoid trouble later on. Crises don’t simply appear, they happen over a period of time usually related to silly mistakes or inaction.
Inside and outside forces do have an impact on each member of your team so it’s important they know their leader has got their back.
THE GROWTH CONVERSATION
Do they feel they are growing? Are they being challenged enough? Are they getting the tools they need to take them to the next level? These are all very valid questions and they need to be raised with your leadership team. Too often these conversations are kept for their yearly performance review, but that’s often too late. Talented people that feel they have stagnated in their present workplace might begin to look elsewhere for work.
The Pygmalion effect demonstrates that people rise to their leader’s expectations which is why it pays off to have this conversation often. While managers usually understand the strengths of their team members, they sometimes fail to take it a step further and explore how to maximize their talents. Small compliments also go a long way in helping supercharge engagement.