Ping-pong tables. Open-floor plans. Kegs in the office. What do these all have in common? They were all ways companies tried to generate culture in hopes of keeping top talent loyal. And they all failed.
While these kinds of strategies aren’t necessarily bad things to try, they aren’t solving the core issue. What actually inspires employees to stay at a company? A 2015 Gallup study found that 70% of the variance between awful, fine, and great work cultures can be attributed to the skills and talents of team leaders.
Team leaders. They are the key to inspiring company culture, which, in turn, leads to attracting and retaining good employees. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Hire good people, and the rest will take care of itself. Easy on paper. A little more complex in reality.
Keep these four tips in mind, and share them with other leaders and/or managers in your company. These aren’t the trendy office tips that change year-to-year. This advice aims to be timeless.
Here’s how to inspire loyalty as a leader in your company.
#1: Foster Strong(er) Relationships
To be interesting to employees, you must be interested. Go beyond a “hello” in the hallway or an icebreaker in a virtual meeting. Authentic connection has to go deeper. Take a genuine interest in each person on your team. Do they have longer-term professional goals you can help them with? If you’re traveling and happen to be near a remote employee, can you meet up for coffee? Also, remember to follow-up. If an employee says their child has a tball game this weekend, remind yourself to ask about it next week. If an employee did great work on a project, remind yourself to send a thank you note.
#2: Make Time for Regular 1-On-1s
Staff meetings are a great way to bring a team together. But it’s also important to make time for 1-on-1 meetings. The time is for them. Not you. Let them drive the conversion with what’s interesting to them, professionally or personally. You will definitely become more in-touch with your employees. And you also might uncover passions that can lead to real innovations for your company.
#3: Feedback Should Always Be a 2-way Street
When it comes to feedback, most organizations focus on leaders providing constructive criticism to their employees, but to me, that’s only half of the equation. Exceptional leaders solicit feedback from their team regularly.
These kinds of questions empower employees to ask for what they need to succeed.
“How did that last project go for you?”
“What would you have changed about our last meeting together?”
“Is there anything I can do to help you reach your goals?”
Another way I’ve found to take some of the sting and tension out of providing and receiving feedback is to do it often and consistently. Instead of having a single, annual performance review where there’s tension and built-up anxiety, I try to discuss wins and losses regularly. If someone is walking into a performance review and isn’t sure what I’ll say, I’m not doing my job as a leader.
#4: Advocate For Your Employees
I firmly believe that it’s my job as a leader to hire people who are smarter than me, who are the best at what they do. My job is to turn them loose, remove the obstacles that are in their way and support them as they do their work.
One of the best things you can do for your employees is to advocate for them. For example, establishing fair compensation, making time to celebrate their strengths, and always having their back.
Employees want to work for organizations that they feel genuinely invested in. To create that environment, you as the leader must embody the values and culture of your company in everything you do.
Read the full article on Forbes.