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Leadership: How you can make your people feel valued and get better results

Written by Jasbindar Singh

“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.”  – Simon Sinek

The ability to have an engaged work force is vital for the success of the entire organisation. Engaged, energised employees want to continue to do the best for their manager and company and will willingly go the extra mile to put in that discretionary effort.

As an executive coach with particular interest in the areas of emotional and spiritual intelligence, (EQ and SQ), I have been called in to help managers and leaders develop their self-awareness so they have greater awareness of the softer side of their leadership skill development.

In such scenarios, the sponsor such as the CEO or an another senior manager is interested not just in the coachee’s financial results but also their ability to inspire, engage and influence others and create a positive team culture. Not surprisingly some have also scored low on key measures in their leadership engagement surveys.

Only do this if you are genuine

As a manager and leader, if you are wondering what you could do, here are some simple, practical actions you could take. These are some of the actions my clients took to not only create positive shifts in their team culture but also significantly moving their engagement dial.

A cautionary note though – these are not just a “tick the box” activities as in you have done it once and you can now forget about it. I can tell you now – this will NOT work. Your people will see through this and you will lose credibility.

Your approach has to be sincere and authentic. Then over time with consistent effort you will see and hear the positive results!

Some practical actions to influence, inspire and engage

  1. Make an effort and get to know your people. There is more to them than the functional outputs they produce. Try and understand the needs and wants of your direct reports and colleagues ( needless to say, your boss) so you can cultivate deeper win-win relationships. You can find out about their interests, what they spend time doing when not at work, their family and any special circumstances here, their passion, family background – where they grew up, went to school, travel…..the sky is the limit.
  2. As a manager and leader, it is your duty to find out what the career aspirations and vision of your direct reports are so you can guide them appropriately. You are more likely to retain people who feel and know that they are supported in their path of working towards something.
  3. Acknowledge and praise your people for work well done. Again knowing your people well, you will have a better idea of what works for whom. For example, for one team member, some form of public acknowledgment may be important for another just making time to give them a special verbal thank you may be enough.
  4. Ask yourself this question – if there was a company restructuring and people had a choice about whether they work with you or elsewhere, how many of your team members do you think would truly elect to work for you? This can be a good indicator as to how well you are engaging with them or not.
  5. Show confidence in your people and stretch them. Give them “meaty” assignments and tell them that why you have done so – that you think that while there is an element of stretch, you are confident that they have the capability to deliver.
  6. Show your support by being available to discuss and talk through issues that may be of concern to them.
  7. MBAW – ( Management by Walking Around) If physically possible, allow some time during the week to “walk the floors” and have a more casual approach and chat with people. People really value this as opposed to seeing you only when you have to make a request.
  8. Be conscious of your leadership style. If you have a more pace-setting and autocratic style, remember there is also a down side. People may not feel as free to be creative, try on things and learn through their mistakes as they will not want to go outside the parameters of “how the boss likes to have things done.”
  9. Good delegation – you may be really competent technically but if you are not doing your team members any favours if you are doing it all by youself. Not only is this extra work for you but again you are missing out on a great opportunity to engage your people.
  10. Have a review of your team meetings. Are you always the chair? Can this be rotated? Are people free to put items on the agenda or is this controlled by you? Team meetings can be a good forum for engaging everyone.
  11. How often do you hold social functions as a team? Apart from the “away” days, do you get together casually say for Friday drinks? Do you celebrate successes after a win or even a major piece of work?
  12. Watch out for differential treatment of staff members. People very quickly feel it, if as a manager you are playing favourites – spending time and or discussing projects with the selected few on a consistent basis.
  13. Be conscious of your jokes and idiosyncratic humour. You could be alienating people without even realising it.
  14. Get to know people across units and departments. You will get a better view of how your part fits into the whole and forge good relationships.

In the words of Ken Blanchard and Scott Blanchard: “Connect the dots between individual roles and the goals of the organization. When people see that connection, they get a lot of energy out of work. They feel the importance, dignity, and meaning in their job.”

Your reflection

Which of these points really resonate for you? How about picking one and putting it into action this week….and then building on this?

About the author

Jasbindar Singh

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