Depending on how big your company is, it can be hard to stay in close touch with every single employee. It can also be hard to stay on top of every single thing that happens in your firm on a daily basis.
Have you ever run into someone in the company kitchen and you completely blanked on their name? Uncomfortable, for both of you.
Some companies grow really quickly. When you double your staff in a year, it's hard to keep track of everything. From day one, I've really been trying to keep a close relationship to all my employees--and I can proudly say that I know everyone's name (and, on a good day, a little bit about them too).
There are five simple steps to take if you're determined to stay close to everything that is happening in your firm as a CEO:
1. Leave your office.
Putting yourself out there is sometimes as simple as literally walking out. Of your office, that is. Leave your lonely cell and work in the bullpen from time to time. Open space offices encourage conversations and you'll suddenly find yourself in the midst of impromptu meetings and fun jokes.
A great time to do this is the 15 minutes before a meeting when you would be responding to emails anyway. Grab your laptop and go respond to emails someone you haven't sat in a while.
2. Call regular meetings--and lead them.
It depends on the size of your company, but if possible, all-hands meetings can be a great way to keep everyone connected to what's going on at the company. Most people are so busy focused within their own roles, that they can sometime feel "disconnected" from the company, just by doing their job.
Our weekly meeting is attended by the majority of our staff and offers us 30 minutes to "think like an owner" and look at the company from 30,000 feet. We do role plays to practice sales pitches and when somebody has a question, we brainstorm together to find the right answer. We exchange high fives at the end of each meeting, which has actually changed our company culture for the better.
3. Practice an open-door policy.
This is meant both literally and metaphorically. You can't always work out in the open, but by leaving your office door open, you invite your employees to come see you about issues and you erase borders that might intimidate them. Actively encourage your staff to approach you with their questions, ideas and problems.
You can do so in meetings, via email or in one-on-one conversations. This kind of open company culture will quickly spread and any new hires will immediately notice that you're a CEO that celebrates a welcoming and approachable culture.
4. Learn what everybody's doing.
Since my firm can still be classified as a start-up, that's where my experience lies, but I'm sure this situation can happen in any company: The other day, we were short on staff so I jumped in to make customer calls. Naturally, I don't do this every day, but I make sure to help out here and there to stay on top of what our customers are saying.
If you make a conscious effort to stay involved in the daily operations of your company's various departments, you're sure to have better insights when it comes time to make strategic decisions. As a leader, you don't only need to make sure everything is running smoothly from top to bottom--you also need to set a good example, inspire and be part of the operations that are taking place on a daily basis.
5. Set up feedback sessions and drop-in times.
Another effective strategy to stay on top of everything is encouraging your staff to give you regular feedback. During these sessions, which don't need to be longer than 10-15 minutes, you and your employee can review performances: yours as a leader and theirs as a contributing staff member.
These feedback sessions can be either set at certain times--for example, every six months--or you can set up certain drop-in times for anybody to come see you and talk about their performance. This is also a great way of building up trust and getting to know everyone a little bit better. If you feel like you won't have the time to talk to everyone individually on a regular basis, ask the different departments to come in together and make it a group feedback session.