I recently had my year-end review discussion with our leader. During it, she asked me to rate my job on a scale of 1-10. Jeez… Nobody had ever asked me that before, and I wasn’t sure whether to be truthful. After a brief hesitation, I gave her my honest answer. She then asked me what she could do to make it a 10, even though my response was close to a 10.
This simple question reminded me about the importance of the emotional component on our happiness at work. When we feel connected to the people we work with, we are more engaged. We tend to feel valued and more enthusiastic about work, empowering ownership and commitment. All of this promotes loyalty to the organization we work for. For us, it becomes about more than just collecting a paycheck.
The single most important relationship that promotes engagement is the one between manager and employee. When I reflect on my career, the best learning experiences I have had were those in which my manager took a personal interest in me. I felt my contributions to the organization were truly valued.
Below are five tactics leaders can use to help their employees feel valued.
Ask for feedback. Good leaders not only share feedback with their employees; they consistently ask their employees for feedback on their own performance. They admit their own shortcomings and are willing to put in the hard work to become better.
Have conversations. Conversations don’t always have to be formal and planned. In fact, some of the best heart-to-heart discussions are those had on the fly. In a world where we rely heavily on technology, there is nothing that takes the place of live conversations.
Build a foundation of trust. Effective leaders admit their own mistakes as a way of encouraging others to take risks. When employees are not afraid of failure, they perform better. They are more willing to try new things and admit when something didn’t go as planned.
Give recognition often. Be quick to thank employees for a job well done. At ABR, we like to refer to them as “kudos” and they are given out frequently, such as at the beginning of each staff meeting and on weekly status reports. There never needs to be a reason to praise someone for their efforts.
Connect on a personal level. Get to know your team members and let them get to know you. Ask them about their interests to find commonality and then share things about your life. Emphasize what you have in common, because it helps employees believe that their goals are aligned with yours.
As we begin a new year, think about your own feelings toward your job. Do you feel valued? A sense of ownership? Ignited to make a difference? If not, maybe it’s time to reflect on why not.