When you run an A/E or environmental firm, you want your people to feel good. Besides the fact that they won’t do their best work if they don’t feel good, seeing your employees happy is one of the most personally gratifying rewards a business owner can get out of ownership. It just makes you feel good, like it’s all worthwhile.
So how can an individual leader make a difference in terms of how people feel? Here are my thoughts:
- Talk to everyone. Don’t be one of those leaders who never greets or speaks to employees who are not in their immediate work group or those at a lower level. Say, “Hi, how are you?” and “Bye, have a great night.” Ask about their weekend or family. Talk to them about what they are doing in the company. Just talk to them, period.
- Move around the company. There really is something to the term coined by Tom Peters years ago – MBWA (management by walking around). Get out and walk around the office. Clearly, little factions develop in certain departments or floors or dead-end halls. But do what you can to see other people in those areas by getting up out of your seat and walking around. It helps everyone feel better.
- Share company performance information. Open book management works. When you share the financials or at least KPIs (key performance indicators) with everyone in the firm it relieves stress about the unknown and builds trust with management. So do it!
- Have social time with everyone in the firm. Everyone likes a party. That means a free lunch, a brief celebration to honor a promotion or won project, or simple get together on Friday afternoon with drinks. Don’t make the mistake, however, of assuming everyone wants to do this stuff on what they consider “their time” (evenings and weekends) as many firms do. We spend enough time at the office together and some people have families they see too little of.
- Brag on your employees. When you talk about them to other people, talk them up! When you get praise, direct it away from you and onto them. Tell them directly that you appreciate them, too. Everyone likes to feel like they are valued.
- Listen to their complaints. If it is a small thing – like a bathroom floor that is always wet – or HVAC problems in their space – or a certain drink they would like in the refrigerator – fix the problem/grant the request. It just shows people you care.
- Get rid of the negative influencers. I’m talking about the specific people who are always skeptical, always negative on the company, always running down the firm or its management. Sometimes this negativity – masked in humor – can help these people gain a following. Reform them or move them on. They are a cancer to your morale!
There are many things that you, as a leader, can do to make people feel better about you and the place they work. Are you doing what you can? If not, why not?
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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