The Only Resource That Increases In Value – Your Team
When you look around your facility at all the computers, servers, production equipment, warehouse equipment, your building, the only thing that is likely to appreciate in value year after year is your team. Developing employees can be a tremendous advantage to them, their careers, your operation, your customers, and ultimately a very nice benefit for the company overall.
But how can someone do this and his/her job too? If you are a supervisor or manager, it should already be a part of your job description. You should be blocking out time every week or two to meet individually with your employees to learn what is on their minds, make minor corrections to their work activities if needed (not hold back for months and let them have the ‘bag of goods’ at an annual review), and of course have team meetings as appropriate so the group hears the same announcements at the same time, they can learn about what each other is doing, and you can see how the dynamics of your group work in a ‘safe’ environment.
Whether you meet with your group or individual employees, remember to actively listen to their needs. Don’t check your emails, play with your phone, or finish a memo you should have done yesterday while they are speaking. Their time is for you to hear them and for you to help, direct, correct, or offer guidance if it is something outside of your area of influence. Hearing what they say, and repeating what you heard to demonstrate you are both on the same page is not simply hearing a person talk, and then telling them something totally unrelated. Failure to actively listen to your employees will distance you from them, and ultimately neither party will be happy.
When someone comes to you with bad or disturbing news, be happy! Not so much about the news, but because this employee is trusting you to help with the problem as long as you 1) act professionally, 2) don’t shoot the messenger, 3) try to do something about the issue(s) or help them get to the right people to address the problem, and 4) calmly discuss the situation with them to be sure it is a problem.
How many of you have tried management by walking/wandering around? If you want to stay in touch with your team members and witness how they are being received by other employees and departments, it is a good way to observe them first hand. It also gives a good sense of what they may be dealing with each day that was not coming out during one on one meetings. Communication is not easy, and most people have some type of improvement they could make to help get their points across more easily. Knowing their audience better (salary to hourly in many cases) should ensure the message is at the appropriate level for the people receiving it. It may seem obvious and common courtesy to do this, but speaking over someone’s head with technical terms, or confusing people with a long-winded story, when you could have said ‘the machine is running too fast’ is not as helpful as it should have been.
Your people really want to appreciate in value. If you don’t help them, another department or company may make the offer to do what you elected to overlook. What will your decision be?