You sit at your desk, confused about the anonymous critical feedback you received through a poll, a 360 or other such survey instrument. You feel misunderstood and frankly – you are starting to be angry. After all, if it weren’t for you the leader, they wouldn’t have jobs or a paycheck.
Give it a day or two and you might feel better. Or not. That seething inside doesn’t go away until you take ownership of what people really want from you. What they want may not be immediately apparent in the feedback you received.
Yes, the paycheck and job are essential. But they’re a given. As long as employees show up and do the work assigned to them, those will continue.
But they want more. And when you can see through your anger, you might understand that work is an endeavor that goes beyond a paycheck. They really want to connect with you.
Sitting in your office alone isn’t enough. Reach out and:
Relate to them, human to human. They want to know that you understand them. This can only happen when you are fully present and able listen to them with your full self, and at a level that your distracted self hasn’t before. Be vulnerable and open up to what they have to say even if you don’t agree with them.
Inspire them to do their best work. They want to hear from you about the vision you have and how the work they do every day supports that vision. Better yet, include them in defining the vision so they feel they are a part of it.
Find good in them. Those little hidden pearls of what makes each person unique and contributes to the work may be hidden. Sometimes, you miss that, but if you’re intentional about finding it, you will – and then you can let them know what you found and work with them to use it.
Encourage them along the way. There is a big gap between the time they begin the work and the time they complete something that is great. Within that gap, they need to hear from you about what they’re doing well and how it contributes to the success of your organization.
Be real and human. It’s okay – in fact preferable, to be civil, respectful and vulnerable. Own up to your mistakes and show them in every way possible that they can expect more from you in the future. And then follow through so they see that you mean what you say.
Include them in decisions that are made that impact them. Ask what they think should be done and ask them what they think and feel about your decisions. It’s a sign of respect that you are including them. They will learn and develop and become even more confident and valuable when you do.
Get out there and develop relationships! There is no substitute for happier and more productive workplaces as well as more success for you!
More From Mary Jo Asmus
Mary Jo Asmus is an executive/leadership coach whose work spans decades of making a difference in the lives of hundreds of executives, leaders and teams in Fortune 500, mid- and small- sized business, governments and nonprofits. She focuses on facilitating individuals and teams from first-line supervisor to the C-suite to create, develop, and influence the relationships that can make them extraordinary.