Take a quick poll of your employees. Make it in writing, and ask just this one question:
“Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?”
Let them mark one box: yes or no; and return it anonymously. Then take a close look at the results.
Gallup’s highly successful organizations all have one thing in common: engaged employees. And engaged employees – not those just doing their jobs adequately, but those individuals who “work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company,” spell success.
One key indicator of the level of employee engagement is how they answer this one question. It gives us as managers pause to think about how we influence the answer to this question.
Do we know each member of our team individually: their family, pets, living situations?
Do we celebrate when something significant happens to them – and not just in monthly batched birthday “parties?”
Do we include their spouses/significant others and children on occasion in work-related gatherings?
Can we tell when they’re struggling or when they’re particularly excited? Do we do something concrete to acknowledge it?
When I first started working as a manager I was taught that work and friendship should never overlap. We were to have strictly professional relationships with the people who reported to us. Talking about personal goals, families or problems was never appropriate. Encouraging friendships at work was also viewed as negative – disciplining one person could result in all of her friends’ work suffering, too.
Today we know that work and personal life are much more closely connected. We meet our best friends – and sometimes our life partners – at work. We share births, illnesses and deaths. We often spend more waking time, after all, with our work mates than our family.
My goal as a manager has always been to hear each one of my team members say, “I love my job!” and mean it.
Obviously, taking a personal interest in their lives is one way I can help them achieve this level of engagement. It will make this a better place to work, and it may even be the most effective retention tool I have as a manager.