Do you know your employees?

There he is, that dedicated and loyal employee, focused on his projects, working for you for the last 4 years.

 You pass by him every day, at the same time, and there he is. You wave and smile. And your interaction ends there. By the way…what is his name?

I am obviously trying to overstate a bit and hoping that this is really not you – not the employee or the boss!

In many cases, the situation is the exact opposite: you receive emails from this employee; you live chat with him, and eventually even speak on the phone. Do you know how he looks like?

As leaders we are always under pressure, have thousands of things to do, deadlines, reports, evaluations, tens of emails to reply to, deadlines, leadership meetings, presentations, deadlines. Yes, the world of deadlines.

Fact is that we are not taking the time to get to know the people that work for us – emphasis on “people”, please.  Our employees, out team members are people. Yeah, I know they are there to work, they know they are there to work, but they are still people: they have a life, they have concerns, they face challenges, they get married and have kids, they get sick, the cry and they celebrate. They are people.

When you see your employee, that one focusing on his working and helping your company make money, do you know that he is a soon granddad to be, that his dog is sick (and he is just devastated because of it) or that he missed his daughter’s graduation because you could not give him the day off?

No, I am not saying that you have to talk to him for hours every day, but getting to know what is important to him, what is happening on his life is important.  Because if you do, you can congratulate him for the grand baby, you can just say,  “I’m dog about your dog”, or you could actually have given him that day off because it was a life event! And you would have showed that you care, that you notice him, that you are there for him. That he is not only the guy who sits close to your office and you don’t even know the name, but he is a valued associate who is important to your company and makes all the difference on the results.

Once, early in the morning, with my coffee in hands, I was visiting a certain company where a friend of mine works. His “cubicle” was all the way towards the back of the room. Some other employees got there at the same time I did and I have noticed that every one went straight to their cubicles – they did not greet any one, they did not talk or smiled or even nodded at anyone.

When I mentioned that to my friend, he asked me: “you really do not expect that people interact in their work place, do you”? I mean, if you worked here I would probably not greet you every morning. Wow!

My point with all this is that we have such high expectations on how our employees treat one another (many companies have even policies for it!), how they must build relationships with their peers and customers, or vendors, or whoever else is there, and we do not make any effort to build a relationship with them.

I do believe in leading by example and that would be a perfect example where our leadership is failing big time!

Maybe, only maybe, if we take the time to get to know our employees we will make our workplace a happier place, and happy employees are more loyal, more grateful, and have higher performance.

What are you doing to get to know your employees?


One Response

  1. Great points! It looks obvious to know your employees maybe, but leaders don’t do it enough for sure. The point is to find the right balance. Indeed, leaders should talk but not too much! Otherwise, it can be negative for the employee as, for instance, he/she will not finish his/her work on time.
    To answer your question, I’m not a leader or an employee but if I were a leader, I guess I’ll take a coffee break with one of them, eat with them, invite them in my office, .. and not only with the same one. I’ll try to be fair to everyone. However, I’ll know the limit. That is to say, not go into to private discussion. The point is to find and respect the limit: it is the workplace so everyone should respect everyone and not go into too personal discussion! Moreover, I think that everyone in any company should be really careful in terms of relations. Someone might be nice to you and pretend to be your friend just for his/her personal interest in the company. 🙂

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