5 Tips to Make Employees Partners in Your Organization
If you're looking for a new leadership habit in the new year, we've got an idea for you: always look for opportunities to convert your employees into partners. This subtle yet powerful approach will boost employee engagement and drive improved performance for your organization.
The most important thing you can do on this path is set aside time each week to connect with your team members. Turn off the phone, close the laptop and give an employee your full attention. Here are five tips for using this weekly check-in to develop a team of partners:
- Don't be a know-it-all. You’ll learn daily from your team. Consider team exchanges as personal development opportunities. If your staff is closest to your customers, chances are they can tell you things you didn't know. Which leads us to the second tip …
- Listen. An offshoot of not being a know-it-all is to instead be an excellent listener. Let's face it, listening is hard and requires work to be good at it. To get started, ask two powerful questions: What's working? and What's not working? Then, ignore the distractions we all grapple with and focus on what's being said.
- Have a presence. Get out from behind the desk and visit your team in their environment. Walk down to the factory floor. Drop in to the call center. Sit with employees in the lunchroom. In other words, be out there where people can see you and ask questions. If you have a remote team, check in with them so they don't feel forgotten. Use video calls to make a stronger connection.
- Keep an open mind. Employees want to believe that they are part of something bigger at work, that they're making a contribution to the business. As a leader, you can help give them a stronger sense of purpose by keeping an open mind to their ideas and suggestions. You have to let go of your desire to control everything and listen (there's that word again) to ideas that might, at first, seem to be from outer space or make immediate sense. If you shut down ideas right away don't expect many more in the future.
- Maintain the connection. Never stop working the connection between employees and your business. Ask your team if they understand how their roles impact the organization. If they aren't sure, take the time to explain it to them. Grab a marker and draw it on a whiteboard if you have to. Articulating how they make the business hum is one of the strongest points you can make -- and will make your team feel as if they are true business partners.