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Connect With Your Employees in 3 Easy Steps

Written on:January 8, 2011
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Those of us watching EFCA (Employee Free Choice Act) may want to relax under the new Congress. Not likely EFCA will get much traction. However, I suggest now is the time to ramp up your employee relations efforts. Get connected or improve your direct connections with employees. EFCA isn’t the only challenge on the horizon.

What can you do?

1. Rounding: Leaders (senior level, front line and HR) get out of your office, visit and talk to employees. Do this daily (or weekly).
2. Listen: Engage in active listening; make a note of one or two key things that you “will do” in response to what you hear from employees. Doesn’t have to be a big thing, just something meaningful.
3. Communicate: Share ideas and thoughts while rounding; share what actions were taken as a result of rounding.

Get connected now like never before. Results will have a positive impact on satisfaction and engagement surveys, however, much more importantly, you will see a positive change in key business metrics.

The three outlined above can be done with relative ease. Make a commitment and then follow through. Start slowly, so you don’t burn out.

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1. Rounding: Leaders (senior level, front line and HR) get out of your office, visit and talk to employees. Do this weekly.

Can you find one hour a week to visit with front line leaders and employees? Consider the return you will get from such a simple investment. However, rounding isn’t just about walking around. As you round your through your company work areas, take the time to partner with other leaders. Don’t round alone. Partner with another member of leadership, one level up or down from you. This sends a message of “leadership unity” – and also addresses a long list of other things measured with satisfaction and engagement surveys. Importantly, it gives you a regular opportunity to share informal, yet important messages, and most importantly, it gives you a chance to listen.

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2. Listen: Engage in active listening; make a note of one or two key things that you “will do” in response to what you hear from employees. Doesn’t have to be a big thing, just something meaningful.

As you round there may be a tendency to share all the cool things you are doing as a leader. We naturally have a tendency to want to share what we are doing, after all, what we are doing is important stuff. Prior to stepping out, know that you really want to focus on listening. Prepare one or two key points that you want to share, however, spend more time preparing half a dozen questions you will ask during your rounding. Focus your questions so you can engage in a meaningful way with employees, yet, allowing you to gather information you can use. Realize you want to go beyond small talk during rounding. Ask these types of questions: What do you hear from our customers? Do you have the proper tools or resources to do your job?  How can we help you do your job better? What would you change, if you could change anything? If you were one of our customers, what would you suggest to us? You get the idea. Questions like this will get you all kinds of answers; however, you are listening for one or two key things you can act on.  Listen actively, then choose to act on some employee input.

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3. Communicate: Share ideas and thoughts while rounding; share what actions were taken as a result of rounding.

During your rounding, you will share a few, simple things with employees, but will spend more time listening. After rounding, you will take action. Act on some meaningful employee suggestion, idea, concept, comment… The actions taken do not have to be reinventions of the business; they can be as simple as installing a light in a dark corner, updating posted information, changing the time of a staff meeting, cleaning a customer waiting room – the key thing, is to act after listening. If you commit to communicating about the actions taken, it subtly forces you to keep your commitment to act.

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Why? Why do any of this? The benefits are tremendous. One of the amazing things about people is that all of us are motivated by simple, yet predicable things. Having the feeling that as an individual I am valued is one of the greatest motivators. The three steps outlined above reach into this motivation. Motivated employees are more likely to be engaged employees, who in turn are more likely to have a positive impact on your business. You can quantify this by tracking key business outcomes.

Try it. It works.

But… I have heard some executives calculate the cost of rounding and determine they cannot afford it. While this may be true for some few companies, consider the costs of not rounding. Generally, the costs of not being connected to your employees far exceeds the costs of engagement. There are many consulting companies willing to charge you lots of money to do exactly what is outlined above. They will charge you money to keep your commitments for you. While I like consulting companies for things that I cannot do for myself, I suggest that connecting with employees is one of the most important things we as senior leaders, front line supervisors and human resource professionals do.

And, it is one of the best things we can do for our business.

Try it.

One Comment add one

  1. Philip says:

    Keep your business strong; stay connected with your employees.

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