Leaders rely on feedback from those they lead as one metric to gauge their effectiveness. Whether this feedback is derived from an engagement survey, or via direct conversation, the responses fundamentally answer these three questions:
1. “Do you care about me?” There’s an old adage which states: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Inspiring hearts and minds to invest their talent and energy relies on your ability to demonstrate care and respect for your employees as individuals. Be available to them; try to discover what’s most important to each person. Listen empathetically, suspend your judgment, and ask open-ended questions to reveal motivations; visibly reflect on what you’re hearing so people sense that you are connecting with what they are saying. Sharing your time and being willing to listen conveys respect and caring.
2. “Can you help me?” Another demonstration of respect and caring is helping to develop those who report to you; most people want to be seen, to be recognized, and to be considered. Often, the most effective teaching method is sharing regular, honest feedback, not only when things go wrong or could have been done better, but especially when things go well. Helping an employee learn does more than expand that person’s knowledge – it also communicates your intention to help them grow.
Honest feedback is specific and direct. When your comments are remedial, observe emotional cues so you may be considerate of the other person’s emotional state; we all learn more from mistakes than from success. Sometimes feedback is best delivered by asking questions, and responding to clarify and educate about the rationale that underlies a policy, procedure, or strategy. When your feedback is favorable, connecting it to a goal, strategy or core value reinforces expected, positive behavior. People thrive when they learn that their effort, results, and potential are appreciated.
3. “Can I trust you?” Securing positive responses to these first two questions naturally leads to the final one. Being able to rely on you as their leader, to have a sense of your authenticity, integrity, and accountability, enables and sustains trust. The consistency with which you lead by example, walking the talk, collaborating, and fulfilling promises, confirms that you care, respect, and appreciate those you lead. Encouraging comparable behavior among your team members builds confidence, motivates initiative, and develops shared accountability within your team so they learn to support and rely on one another as well as you. It’s the trust that you’ve earned which affords the opportunity to inspire your people to do the meaningful work that makes a difference.
How do you expect your team to answer these 3 questions?