Be Aware & Pay Attention
by Amber Kossak
Unemployment has been at an all-time low. This means that more and more people are bringing home a paycheck, which also means there’s more money available to purchase goods and services. As business owners, we’ve really appreciated the increase in business. However; the flip side in our current economy is that as our businesses grow, it can be increasingly difficult to find good players to be part of our teams.
Many companies are raising wages and using other incentives to attract hard-working, motivated people. The question is are you paying close attention to your employees? Are you in danger of losing your workers to a competitor?
Much has been written about the importance of good workplace culture in recent years. Publications like Inc., Entrepreneur, and Harvard Business Review routinely publish advice on ways to create a healthy work environment where employees can thrive. I’d like to share a few things I’ve personally learned both from my reading and from experience.
When you micromanage, you might as well wear a neon sign that says, “I don’t trust you.” The result is discouraged employees and low morale. This is not how you build a loyal team. Most people have an inherent desire to do their jobs well. They begin their careers motivated, seeking a job where they can spread their wings. It’s easier to kill motivation than to cultivate it.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” –Stephen R. Covey
Have you ever been in situations where people talk to one another but fail to communicate? That is, we can hear the words they use, but fail to catch what they are really trying to say. Listening takes time and we’re all so busy today we want to fix things fast. Being a good listener is not easy, but it’s necessary. Being a good listener is one of the best ways I know of to say, “You’re important.”
We need to care about our people and the process. Much has been written in recent years about social intelligence. A manager may have a good handle on finances or processes, but no clue how they themselves come across to when it comes to people. Steve Jobs’ career can be divided into two parts. His genius was apparent in both, but in the early stage of his career, he was a most difficult boss due to his lack of self-awareness. When he returned to the helm of Apple after a period at Pixar, he was much more aware of who he was and how he came across.
Astute social intelligence also includes your ability to read others. The key here is that you can’t treat everyone the same. A good leader will adjust their behavior and style accordingly.
Failure to recognize employee achievements
This doesn’t necessarily mean ringing a bell every time someone makes a sale. Yes, some people like public recognition, but others prefer to quietly do good work. No matter which camp they’re in, all people need to feel their contributions have value. Show appreciation.
A few additional mistakes to avoid include hiring and promoting the wrong people, failure to keep your word, and simply being indifferent to what’s really going on. There are usually signs that precede major historical events and personal health crises. Similarly, there are signals that key members of your team are unhappy or disengaged. Pay attention to the signs.
Follow your gut. Don’t make the mistake of assuming things will just fix themselves. Often, they do, but sometimes a leader has to stop, take the time, get a read and address what’s going on.
Great leaders are role models. They inspire trust and loyalty through their actions even more than their words. Don’t be complacent. Focus on your people, the culture, and you will be sure to see results. If there are a few bumps in the road, you will need your best people to help steer you through. Listen, communicate, be honest, and be kind!