Every month I receive a list of length of service anniversaries for my team. This isn’t for my direct reports, it is for each associate in my territory. Usually about 25 people per month. And each month I send an email to the group, the email says “Thank you for choosing to be on my team”. I deliberately use the word CHOOSE. I do this because, I do not ever want to take for granted that each and every day when a team member walks into work, they could walk into another business, but they don’t.
Too often, I think leaders take that for granted. I think we often assume people will not leave our teams. I think too often we assume that if someone has been on the team for a number of years they will stay on the team. I think we spend a lot of time focusing on new hires and how to get them past that first 3-month hurdle (100% a critical thing!), often minimizing the work we should be putting into keeping the 10+ year people. By no means am I delusional enough to think me sending an email is enough to keep someone, but I do hope it keeps me connected enough and “reachable” enough that if someone has a concern; they will connect with me. However, I have 3 additional “EASY” strategies I recommend to stay connected and show your team you are grateful and appreciate each of them every single day.
Say “Hello” to people
I know this may sound simple, but do you actually have an intention to say hello to everyone on the team when you arrive to work? Do you actually take the time to greet people and check in on their day? Small things can often make a big difference, and the reality is, in this simple conversation you may see an opportunity for you to have a bigger conversation. Maybe you will notice a shift in enthusiasm, or that someone seems ill. You may notice someone appearing more tired. Simply making eye contact, intentionally looking and listening for signs of change, and inviting an opportunity for a bigger conversation has more impact then you realize.
Take time to understand what is important to people
At least quarterly every associate in your organization should have the opportunity to have a conversation where they discuss what is important to them personally and how the organization can support them in achieving those things. It may have nothing to do with work, and that is 100% okay! Why? Because if you show commitment to helping someone achieve something and they succeed, you will 1- be doing the right thing and 2- they will give back to you (if you really need a reason other than it is the right thing). You as a leader are only responsible for your direct reports, however you should have a system in place to support each direct report, having the opportunity to have, this conversation with their direct supervisor.
This doesn’t mean give trust blindly, but it does mean you need to demonstrate actions that show people you trust and respect them as an employee and that you believe in their competence. If someone has not given you a reason to distrust them, then you need to assume trust. If someone has given you a reason to distrust something then you need to have a candid conversation so they know what they did, why it has impacted trust and what you need from them going forward. You should be able to approach tough situations from a point of curiosity and understanding vs assumption and blame and if you can’t, then that’s a you thing and it is time for reflection. As leaders we should have an increased expectation of ourselves to raise to a different level, and when we do, people will join us and we will build a trust culture. Nothing says gratitude like the gift of trust!
Obviously, this is a short list and could have 25 things or 50 things. However, these are four things you could implement tomorrow, and for that I hope you take them and give them to your team to show your gratitude!
Melissa Maloney is the founder of Happy Leader Enterprises and is passionate about helping your teams and you increase your corporate culture through efficiency, effectiveness and engagement. Lear more at www.melissamaloney.ca