Ready to increase visibility in your company? Start with these three strategies:
1. Tackle the tough conversations head-on
Employees want to work for managers who practice authenticity and transparency, yet many leaders are lacking in this area. Leaders must be willing to share first to open up the door for dialogue. This is especially important intense situations or when different groups don’t seem to be on the same page.
Those difficult conversations are critical. As a leader, the onus is on you to set the example for your employees and also to have tough discussions when needed. It’s up to you to proactively nudge folks to give feedback, and there needs to be an established cultural strategy of actually doing it.
Managers and direct reports may need to reach a compromise to understand each other’s perspective and context. But if both parties listen, you’ll find people start to recognize those stories they made up from their own confirmation biases.
2. Galvanize your group with all-hands meetings
As a leader, it’s important to control your own narrative by properly educating employees on company happenings, as well as the strategic vision and actions of the leadership team. When employees have a better sense for the “why” of what they’re doing – and they feel like you’re all working toward the same goals, albeit at different levels – they’ll be much more motivated and engaged.
Get everyone physically together in a room when sharing and measuring metrics. This could happen in a monthly operating meeting, for example, or a webinar. Send the information over email if necessary, though that method loses the value of having people physically focused and working together.
When done well, these all-hands meetings energize your team, reinforce shared goals, and provide clarity of purpose. They also help employees feel needed and purposeful, especially when leaders are open about sharing challenges. To keep your meetings effective, make sure you’re surfacing major issues, celebrating wins, spotlighting team members, and providing a forum for all levels of employees to ask questions. Create a steady cadence of these meetings to foster a dialogue-based culture that helps employees feel more “in the loop” and therefore more empathetic.
3. Cultivate personal relationships
All too often, leaders err on the side of aloofness when socializing with their employees. Sharing any personal detail feels unprofessional; it’s easier to stick to “just business.”
You don’t need to divulge all the details of your private life, but you should make an effort to develop personal relationships with employees. After all, we spend more waking hours at work than at home, so it’s only to be expected that employees want to feel understood and supported. Seize those in-between moments to cultivate relationships: Invite a manager to lunch to ask how her new direct report is doing; or ask your colleagues how their weekends were while you’re waiting for a video chat to start. Grab lunch with the intern. Get coffee with a rock star employee who usually flies under the radar. The more you seek out opportunities like these to connect with people, the more you’ll build rapport and earn respect.
It’s also up to you to help employees connect with one another: Schedule opportunities for peers to engage in meaningful conversations or open up a casual dialogue in the coffee line about a new employee’s family. Rather than just ask how someone’s day is going, inquire about something they’re excited about in their personal lives.
I’m fond of saying that “empathy is the grease that turns the trust train.” Empathy gives employees context, better tools to make decisions, and a more solutions-focused mindset. As a leader, it’s up to you to set an example of empathy in the office by having tough conversations, fostering a sense of team cohesion, and pushing yourself to show your “human” side. No watercooler can give you that.