Thank you to all who have visited the blog so far this month! So many countries! I appreciate it.
Back in February, I challenged one of my teams with an initiative. I required each of them to share 1 idea or 1 area of improvement within our department and/or company. I created a OneNote folder where they would share these things every week. They had to include their name for accountability purposes.
Some took to the challenge immediately and some really great things are in motion today to bring their ideas to life. Some thought they really didn’t have any ideas. But through our 1-on-1 sessions when I got them thinking and talking, ideas flowed.
“But that’s a pretty small thing,” one team member told me after sharing an idea. And I reminded them I wasn’t looking for a cure for cancer. Just simple ideas that would help create less friction or would help others understand a necessary process better or that would create a better customer experience is what we were looking for. Small steps in the right direction compound to have a significant impact in the long run.
Do you know that your team has more to contribute? Do you know they have experiences that are extremely valuable and can be leveraged? Do you believe that ideas should come from all areas of your organization, not just the executive levels?
Give your team a challenge, encourage their participation, and watch them grow. You will see collaboration. You will see people stretching beyond their comfort zone. You will hear some pretty great ideas that you’ve never considered before.
And your team member, you, and your organization will become better as a result.
So a manager you lead approaches you to say they need time off to deal with significant family issues. You can hear the tension in their voice. What do you do?
- Listen to them. Hear their emotion. Accept that emotion.
- Ask appropriate questions. “Are you worried about work?” “What can I do to help you and your family during this time?” Connect with your team member.
- Feel. Feel what they are feeling. If you are not an emotional person, that’s ok. Work hard to empathize with them. They need to know you understand (even in part) what they are going through.
- Think. Think of actionable things YOU can do to make them feel less guilty about work, take the load off of their shoulders and place the work load on you and their team members. It’s not a forever thing, but you can communicate and demonstrate “we are here for you” during this difficult time.
- Act. Set up a time to meet prior to their leave of absence to plan the course of action.
- Follow-up/Follow-through. Keep the communication going for the entire team. Touch base with this team member.
This is a crucial time to communicate how much you value your team member. Difficult times come – that’s life. But with some intention, care and concern, as well as humanity, you help your team member navigate through their current stormy waters.
If you have built trust within your team, this is a critical time to put that to the test. Allow vulnerability. Allow tears. Encourage communication and promise it. Be human.