Don’t be an “undercover boss”. Come out of your office and talk to employees
If you feel the only way to really know what’s going on at the front lines of your company is to go undercover, there’s something wrong. Leaders should not be in the dark about the interface between their front-line employees and customers.
How can you get to know your front line employees, what motivates them, and how to get them to be highly-valued brand ambassadors?
- Spend time with employees. It’s a simple theory—and it works. Allocate time each month to walk the halls, eat lunch in the cafeteria, talk face-to-face with the factory manager or employees on the floor, make a point to call and touch base with your employees who work virtually. Ensure that on every trip, you allocate time to talk with employees at the location you’re visiting. Schedule these activities in your calendar, just like any other critical appointment.
- Ask questions that connect to the strategy. For example, “Help me understand how you see the work you’re doing contributing to our strategy?” Listen and then coach based on what you hear. How can you use this interaction as a teaching and coaching moment?
- Reinforce what you want to see more of. Hear a great idea? Recognize it. See someone exhibiting one of your core values? Recognize him or her. Share genuine, appreciative feedback with employees.
- Provide an avenue to listen regularly. For leaders who manage large groups of employees, use technology appropriately to create channels of communication so that employees can reach out to you when they have a question, concern or idea. Don’t commit to this, however, unless you plan to answer the questions or emails yourself. Employees know canned responses or those that don’t sound like they’re coming from you.
What one step can you take to be less “undercover” and more in touch with your employees?
- David Grossman
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