Do You See Your Team? by Jim Johnson

Do you see your team? Do you see them as people, individuals?  Do you make personal connections with them?

Or do you see them merely as a position or someone to get something done for you?  When we do this, our staff, as human beings, can feel invisible or not valued. 

If we take the time to get to know our teams as individuals who have hopes, dreams, needs, and aspirations, I believe our teams will become better teams. As we work to connect with them on a personal level, our professional connections deepen as well. They will see that you are working to add value to them not only as an employee but as a human being. And when that happens, they will be more dedicated and more willing to buy into our vision.

Years ago I had the honour to be on the USS Nimitz – a nuclear aircraft carrier in San Diego. I had the privilege of meeting Captain Mark Manzier and hear how he interacted with the 5,000 to 6,000 men and women who served with him on that ship.

Every day he would connect with the crew in different ways and in different places. One day he met a young man and asked who he was and where he lived back home. The young man told him and then explained to the captain that his wife had just had their first baby. The captain asked if the baby was a boy or girl and learned the name. 

Later the captain was in a meeting with his commanding officers. And he asked the commanding officer who was over this young man, “What recently happened in the life of this young man can you tell me about it?”  I was told by another officer that in these circumstances, the superior officer had better have a good answer for the captain.

The captain built-in accountability into his lead staff. He found value in his leadership team knowing about the personal things that we’re going on in their crew’s lives. The captain also found value in making that personal connection himself. As the captain explained it, “There will be times when we go into battle and I will call on these men and women to do things that they naturally would not want to do. At that point of decision, they need to know I have their best interest in mind and that they trust me.”

Today, make a personal connection with your team. I’m not asking you to become their best friend. But I’m asking you to personally invest in them. Do you know what their family life is like? Do you know about their kids? Their hobbies?  Their interests?

Be intentional about “seeing” your staff.