During my eight working hours, I am busy with non-stop emails, meetings, and requests. Sometimes I might forget to take my breaks. My agenda is full of responsibilities. I am trying to stay focused, to manage my time and prioritize my tasks, but is not enough. I need the time to breathe and find my balance. Furthermore, my team needs me, and I don’t have the time to focus on them.
In today’s fast-paced and challenging working environment everyone is busy. Moreover, in many organizations, leaders are disconnected from their employees, focusing on their own personal agendas and objectives. The time for their team members is usually restricted occasionally to one-to-one meetings or to 15-minute team meetings. However, they forget that they can dedicate only a few minutes to their teams to produce extraordinary results.
The attitude of a conscious leader should be that on a daily basis he will devote at least 10% of his time to his people. Dedicating our time and ourselves to draw out the best from our team does not mean spending the whole time looking after them, but making some time for them. Employees who feel respected and acknowledged and have a relationship with their leader based on trust will try harder for us and they will accomplish surprising things.
How can you spend the 10% of your time with your employees?
1. Get involved-Observe improvement
Get involved in their working life and ask each of them, how is their day, if they have any trouble with their tasks, how they feel today and if there is anything that you can do for them. That way, they will feel that they are being noticed and not taken for granted. It is important not to leave behaviors unnoticed. Moreover, if you are working on improving behaviors, then it might be a great opportunity to come closer to your team and observe any improvements that they made. You can use your presence to reinforce a good behavior or to change a bad one. Employees who notice that they add value through their daily work to their general performance are more inclined to step up and go the extra mile for the organization’s objectives.
2. Encourage positive environments
A successful leader is someone who will take the time to understand what triggers people’s excitement and how they share their energy with other people. Encouraging positive behaviors that you observe will contribute to positive environments in general. Teams are a mixture of positive, negative and neutral people. If the negative ones are more than the positives and neutrals, then your team will consistently think negatively. Take the time to identify these patterns and start providing some positive statements, affirmations, such as I enjoy working with my team, I'm grateful for your daily support and effort to achieve our goals, we can do this or I recognize your positive way to approach our daily tasks. In addition, you can reinforce positive behaviors by being more specific and giving examples, such as your hard work and daily dedication really paid off. During the project, you provided solutions, new approaches, and ideas. You stayed calm and confident while replying to tough questions. It shows that you can take control and you really nailed problem-solving. This way, the employee is encouraged and can clearly understand what behaviors worked well. People have a way to become what we encourage them to become!
3. Regular objective and constructive feedback
Teams display a range of behaviors each single moment of their life. A regular feedback during an occurred situation is more beneficial than a feedback in the past. The sooner someone gets a feedback, the better. When you provide a continuous feedback, you are not biased by the time, the memory is still active, you will avoid misinterpretations, you are more accurate and your employees can relate and be more self-aware. Behaviors need to relate to the context to be understandable. Imagine someone who is telling you that you need to work on your leadership skills, while he doesn’t specify what exactly he means. How would you feel? Now imagine someone telling you that during our meeting your voice was not heard, and although I know you are a great leader, you did not provide any tips on how we will assist people to release their potential. Do you notice any difference in the second statement? Be careful though sometimes when you are trying to provide an immediate feedback during an intense moment it might be catastrophic. It is wise to wait until the person will calm down and then approach him/her.
4. Listen without a filter - Ask a lot of questions
Find a time during the day to hear without having any filter and respond meaningfully. Try to be objective and be aware of certain bias you might hold. Focus on the meaning and the emotional content of what your employee is saying. If you will find the time to listen to your people regularly, you will promote an open, supportive environment where your employees will feel heard, safe and empowered. It is a human need to feel heard. Stop saying you should do this, stop worrying about everything, it is fine or poor you, don’t blame yourself. However, focus on questions, such as what do you think you could differently, why do you believe you reacted that way, what exactly makes you believe you are not sufficient, now that you know the impact of this specific behavior, what will you do to change it? Employees are most inspired when a leader takes the time to know them, listen to them and their worries and assist them to find their own answers.
5. Give the right tools and resources
Observe what tools your people use to do their job or to achieve certain objectives. You need to be close enough to your employees’ activities to know if they use the tools and/or resources that are required to make their daily life easier and more pleasant. If your team doesn’t use any tools maybe because they are not aware, tell them, I noticed that you spend a lot of time to these tasks, have you ever noticed that we have this tool. Why don’t you give it a try, it will help you work faster. Sometimes is not the team that doesn’t perform well, but the lack of tools. It is important to be aware that your people are using all the available resources. The right tools will increase productivity and employee engagement.
There is no substitute for the rewards of helping others to grow, the pleasures of teaching other to succeed and the excitement of organizing colleagues who spark one another’s enthusiasm.