What do your employees know about you? The answer to that question has a more significant impact on your organization’s performance than you may realize.
When given the opportunity to work with an organization, I like to ask team members to tell me about their CEO. The answers I get inform productivity levels for the company and more importantly, they tell me about a team or organization’s potential.
It’s virtually impossible for a team to realize its potential, or achieve high performance, if the members of that team do not value one another. Yet, time and again, companies attempt to prove this logic wrong – and fail miserably. Valuing one another is at the heart of any productive relationship.
Two Types of Relationships
Too often, the answers we hear to questions about an organization’s CEO are transactional in nature:
- Facts about the boss, such as time with the company and positions held
- Background information, including education and other status indicators
- Occasionally, information that can be found in company marketing materials, such as interests, hobbies and family members
What becomes abundantly clear is that employees don’t know their bosses, they simply know of them.
Less frequently we get answers about the CEO that have an element of affinity. In these cases, employees will often share:
- Qualities their leader models
- Stories of past interactions and experiences with the person
- Dates on the calendar when they have the opportunity to engage with that leader
There’s a clear link between level of engagement and performance levels demonstrated by employees. When there’s resonance between an employee and their leaders, this forms the relationships essential for improved business results.
Build Relationships and You Build Potential
While conducting a workshop with the executive team of a global company, the topic of accountability came up. Several participants talked about the need to hold people accountable. As the discussion evolved toward solutions that would differentiate the team, the head of operations raised his hand to speak.
“If you want to build accountability,” he said, “Build relationships. People don’t let people down if they care about them.”
The room was silent for a moment. It’s worth mentioning that this leader had served within the organization for nearly 30 years and his teams had an unparalleled record of performance. The looks on people’s faces within the room made it evident—they were suddenly assessing their own ability to build relationships.
It’s through the act of connecting emotionally with one another that a team creates greater potential for improved results in exponential ways. Yet, with the crushing demands and expectations for being more profitable with fewer resources, those who lack this wisdom pretend they can short-cut this logic. Ultimately, they pay for this mistake.
Make Contacts Effective
I’m often asked, “How do I make authentic connections with thousands of people?” The answer begins with reframing how you define ‘authentic’ connections. You don’t have to connect with everyone; you simply have to make the contacts you have effective. Consider these actions:
- Humans are hard wired to have connections with each other. Yet, there’s not always the time to make that happen. What becomes essential, therefore, is that you provide those who do have contact with you the ability to tell different stories about you. Rather than “business as usual,” when those stories reveal who you are as a person, others will relate to you as well.
- Take this challenge: Once a month, go to the employee dining room, introduce yourself to a table of employees and have lunch. That’s 12 casual encounters in the course of a year that will result in hundreds of stories being spread about you. (They’re telling stories about you anyway; it’s best to shape those stories yourself.)
While employees expect you to listen to them, they are realistic in their expectations and often understand appropriate boundaries and professional relationships. Just remember that they want to know you, and the more they do, the greater potential your organization possesses.
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