Ever experience this?
Your working environment is heavy with strategy, plans, and activity (maybe too much activity, too few choices). Lots of analysis, plenty of goals, frequent task forces. Many presentations and alignment meetings.
High on the inspecting, thinking, "head" part of the equation.
But no heart.
For all the busy-ness in the business, there's not much soul driving it.
If you haven't experienced this yet, there's a darn good chance you will. Research indicates that almost 60 percent of respondents in a huge global study don't even think upper management promotes policies that enable health and well-being, let alone create an emotionally connected culture.
Yikes -- no wonder so many of us sneak office supplies home at night to "stick it to the man".
More often than not, the malaise traces back to leadership.
The bottom line is that focusing on driving the bottom line and driving emotional connections is what leaders of the highest-performing organizations do. The key then is to visibly exude caring and empathy -- in ways that your employees are most longing for.
1. Show warmth, an interest in their well-being, and a desire to connect
I once had a boss who said "The door is always open!" The problem was the lower half was shut. It was like approaching a bank teller, always at arms-length. I never really felt like I connected, nor did that boss seem authentic.
People warm up to warmth and spot insincerity and coldness a mile away. And in such cases they'll stay a mile away too.
2. Help someone with a circumstance
Ever have someone dig in and help you solve a real problem, a true predicament? You don't forget. And they won't either if you care enough to seek out such opportunities and invest.
3. Keep your commitments
People who unfailingly keep their commitments stand out for doing so, as sad as that is. Keeping your commitments, even at a cost, shows your commitment to individuals in a profound way.
4. Appreciate, respect, encourage, empower
I call these the "Foundational-Four". So sticky in their resonance, yet so easy to let slip.
5. Take the time, especially when you don't have it
At times when you're the busiest, there's a darn good chance they're at their busiest too. Maybe it's a pending big meeting, or you're all in crisis mode in the face of a competitive surprise. The point is there's likely a common denominator to the intensity.
It's at times like this your people need you most. It's at times like this it's most noted that you made the time for them, even though they know you likely didn't have it.
6. Listen--really listen--it's what caring human beings do
I pride myself in this and I still have to be very intentional about the practice. I still use the WAIT principle -- from time to time I'll admonish myself and silently ask, "Why Am I Talking?", instead of listening?
7. Treat others' time as if it's as important as yours
That habit of being ten minutes late, for everything, is growing thin--you just might be too thick to realize it. (I mean that with love, of course.)
Nothing says "I don't care about you" more clearly then openly disrespecting others' time.
8. Be as passionate about their growth, development, and career as you are about your own
Even if you're not in a position to directly advance their career, discussing their hopes and aspirations, and helping them develop what they need to get there, goes a long way.
So with love in the air this week, bring some to work. You'll win hearts, and minds.