Imagine reporting to a manager and one day realizing that this person just isn't leadership material. It happens often. People are promoted into leadership roles when they have no skills to belong there and do the job effectively.
The bar of great leadership is set pretty high, because it's predicated on two things that drive success: results and relationships. You can't have results at the expense of people. And serving your people well without getting results sets you up for failure.
To create the kind of environment where people can't help but want to work for you, here are six strategies to put into daily action:
1. Always give feedback
This is a core principle of effective communication in great leadership, whether it's to address performance issues, clarify direction, or set expectations on critical tasks or strategies. When giving feedback, always keep it simple, be specific and use examples, and avoid information overload. If there's a performance issue, describe the behavior you would prefer and focus on the issue, not the person.
2. Discuss your priorities as well as theirs
It's obviously important to meet and discuss your employees' top priorities for the week to keep them on task. But leaders also should share their own biggest priorities and help their direct reports to be in alignment with those initiatives. This strengthens bonds, helps boost engagement, and gets you more focused results.
3. Hold stay interviews
The average turnover cost is around 20 percent of an employee's salary. To keep your valued employees from jumping ship, one cost-effective leadership habit is to conduct "stay interviews." Unlike the exit interview, you're getting fresh knowledge and insight about what you can do to improve and retain those valued employees--today, not after they have emotionally disconnected and stopped caring.
4. Recognize your people
To improve the employee experience, leaders need to tap into the innate human desire for recognition and appreciation. Research finds that employees working for organizations that offer recognition programs have a more satisfying employee experience than those in organizations that do not offer formal recognition programs.
5. Let your people make decisions
One of the best things a leader can do is give employees the freedom and opportunity to decide, participate in, and determine how work is best accomplished. Employees thrive in entrepreneurial settings, which make them feel like they're invested in the company. This means giving them freedom in and ownership of their work. When you do, they're likely to perform at a higher level.
6. Expand their knowledge
Leaders need to stretch their employees with work assignments that will expand their knowledge and sharpen their skills. Let your top workers explore opportunities to learn something new, join a cross-functional project, pick up another skill, or lead a "lunch and learn."