I am not saying anything new when I say that the obligation of management is
to provide education, leadership, ethics, and support to all employees. We all accept that responsibility and strive to attain those goals. With that in mind, there is one more important function that management should provide for their workers. Always give them something. Let me explain.
We know how difficult it is for employees to ask questions of the boss or to approach their manager when they have a problem. As a leader, you need to cultivate an environment where employees will not hesitate to approach you or call for your help for any issue, large or small, positive or negative. The best way to do that is to give something to the employee, every time they seek you out. Let them walk away from their meeting with you with SOMETHING.
What Is That Something?
Something can be tangible or intangible: a solid message, a good feeling, impression, or even a product. After any interaction with your workers, they should depart with something that conveys to them that you care about them and your interaction with them. Even if the meeting was a discussion about a mistake they made, they must leave knowing that the exchange was warranted and handled properly, and there was a lesson learned. Additionally, they need to know that if they make a mistake in the future, any fall out will be fair, proper and justified. Do not let them be afraid to accept new challengers for fear of making another mistake. Allowing them to leave with a feeling of worth and dignity is very important.
I always try to provide some new education for workers whenever we meet. I emphasize what I am teaching so they realize that they have something new to help them in the future.
When meeting with a worker, always attempt to think like they might be thinking. What are their fears? What would they want to get from this meeting? What can you say to make sure they are not afraid of meeting with you again? You never want to crush the employee’s willingness to come to talk again, about any subject.
Always give the employee plenty of time to say everything they want to say. When responding, be sure to provide all the answers you can, unless you cannot due to confidentiality or privacy issues, and then let the employee know why you cannot answer. Make sure that your answers provide some form of help. They came in because of a need that required action. Let them leave knowing that their concern was of value to you, too.
Open Door Policy
Sometimes, employees just need encouragement, education, an approved pause in their hectic day, a chance to vent, some support, a reality check, or just something to munch on. They need to know that your door is open to them.
I always kept treats in my office. It is amazing how offering a piece of chocolate can open up a great conversation about an interesting work fact, info about an incident, or a suggestion for improvement. I learned of many operational tidbits from drop-in employee meetings, things I never would have known about otherwise. In one park where I worked, there was a candy jar in the office of the Employee Relations Coordinator, who always shared it with employees who just stopped by on a break to chat, or vent about an issue. Another industry expert I know kept food vouchers in his desk and often rewarded visiting employees with a $10 voucher for snacks at the food stands.
Do not overlook the importance of following up with the employee about your recent conversation, even if it is a quick exchange in the hallway or at their workstation. They need reinforcement that you really do care. Working with others is always about being professional and taking the extra steps to give them their moment of worth.
Something For You
Taking a little time out of your day for your workers will also leave you with something you might not have expected. Your employees will stay longer, be more loyal, and become so much more a part of your company when you make them feel welcome, valuable, and worthwhile.