Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Leadership is all about the people, yet many leaders struggle to build relationships and utilize their teams because they are so focused on the results. This week, on our 12th episode of Hanch’s How-To’s, Jeff is sharing the advice he gave two of his coaching clients to help them increase their employee engagement. If you are a leader who has ever struggled developing relationships with your team members or bringing them into the problem-solving process, this is the episode for you!
1. Encourage creativity
I am currently working with a company that is struggling to get their product to their customers in a timely manner. This challenge is compromising their competitive advantage, so they need to quickly develop a solution. As my client began walking me through their process, I was not sure how to fix their problem. Luckily, I knew who had the answer: their employees! When you go to your employees for solutions, make sure they are engaged. Recognize their efforts and make it fun by offering prizes to drive participation. Your team needs to know that you are open to their ideas. Empower them to take their ideas to the next level by giving positive feedback. The opportunity to present and try out ideas can lead to deeper commitment, problem-solving, and productivity.
Q: Have you ever tried to offer a creative solution to your leader? How was it received? Did their response make you feel appreciated or rejected? How do you think leaders can better involve their teams in identifying solutions? What do you think causes leaders to keep their teams out of this process?
2. Know your team
One of my clients has a reputation of being cold and standoffish. When one of their best employees brought this to their attention, the leader told them that they were probably right but that “People know my heart.” Unfortunately, actions speak much louder than words, and people see far better than they hear. Building positive relationships with your team does not have to be complicated! Just ask them about their family, their recreational activities, and how they are doing. Make it your mission to know their favorite snacks and where their family is going on vacation. This shows them that you care about them as a person and not just a name on your volunteer list or the company payroll.
Q: What do you think your reputation is? What would your reputation be in an ideal world? How do you think that you can build this reputation? Why do you think leaders hold off on building relationships with their teams? Is it a “can’t do” or a “won’t do”? What can you do to help encourage leaders below you to develop professional relationships with their team members?
If you’re not sure how to start getting your team involved in the problem-solving process, start by using a sample problem in your next training exercise. Pull from a past problem your company faced and present it to your team. To make it fun, separate your team into two teams and have them compete for a small prize. Observe their discussions and practice helping your team process the information and sift through ideas. When you do, you will feel more confident involving them the next time you need to find a real solution.
Create a document where you can keep notes about your employees’ personal lives. Review these notes before your meetings and consider how you can go above and beyond in the relationship. For example, send your employee a gift basket to their hotel while they are on vacation. If you ask them to come into work early, have their favorite coffee and snack waiting for them on their desk.