Recently I said I’d be offering tips for creating a great culture for companies willing to buckle down and do so. Here’s
the first one, just in time for New Year’s resolutions:
Commit to spending time with your employees. Everybody knows that in every relationship, spending time together, communicating is important. This doesn’t mean hanging out in an unnecessary three-hour meeting. It means committing to some time, weekly, monthly, whatever makes sense in your company and with your team, to checking in with your employees.
Checking in might be about finding out where you are in terms of a project and having a chance—already on the calendar—to discuss issues like snags, holdups, too much work on the employee’s plate, failures on the employee’s part or family problems that are impeding progress. They give you a chance, as a manager, to pay attention to whether the employee is on track or off track. They give you a specified time to look over how that employee is doing and realize that, for example, the employee is getting everything done way ahead of schedule and might be bored or need more challenging work.
The second part of the meeting should be discussing what needs to get done the next week, the next month or during whatever time period. Each meeting you can create a little mini set of goals to be checked on next time, which gives you both something you can hold to and be accountable for. What you can measure, you can manage.
And that’s really the point. It can be tough to make yourself commit to a schedule of meeting employees. It can often feel like crises, deadlines and other events take priority and you’ll do it next time. But as we all know, once that slide happens, it’s really easy to let it slide altogether and then you’re only talking with employees on the fly. If you can commit to spending the time, you’ll be amazed at how much more smoothly things go.
Projects get done on time. You won’t have customers calling up and saying they’re not happy and haven’t been so for months, because you’ll be on top of how things are going. You won’t have be surprised by employees quitting, because you’ll know how that employee views and is performing at his job. You won’t be surprised by project bottle-necking, because you’ll have your finger on each step of the process.
It may be difficult at first. Creating a new habit isn’t easy. It’s usually in weeks 2, 3, and 4 that we give up on that new diet, exercise routine, the plan to clean out and organize every closet. But if you stick to it, you’ll have much happier employees because they’ll know you’re actually paying attention to how they’re doing and available to help them resolve issues. You’ll work much more like a team.
So that’s the first tip. We’ll be offering more throughout the year. Keep in mind, a great culture is the key to recruiting and retaining great employees, to productivity and profits. It’s well worth the effort. And Happy New Year!