If you think back over your academic and professional career, you probably remember the people who played a big role in helping you become the person and manager you are today. These people may have coached you or inspired you through their words and actions. You can have the same impact on your team members, especially if you initiate specific kinds of conversations with them. In her recent article for Forbes, leadership coach Kristi Hedges lists several types of discussions you can engage in with the goal of boosting employee engagement.
Each member of your team is probably well known for specific strengths. While your star sales closer might enjoy the attention she gets from other team members for her talent, she needs to hear praise from you, her manager. Don’t fall into a rut of simply telling her that her closing skills rock. Tie your praise to what she’s done this week or this month to let her know you’re aware of what she’s accomplished and that you appreciate her effort. This casual recognition may encourage her to work even more effectively.
To uncover an employee’s unknown strengths, have him take on a project that’s vastly different from what he usually does. If he engages above and beyond in completing the task, you’ll know that he’s got untapped potential. Tell him you see him achieving great things in the future. Even if he doesn’t do a great job on the project, you can talk with him about which parts of the tasks he enjoyed and congratulate him on being willing to risk being out of his comfort zone. Knowing that you're on his side and looking out for him may induce him to broaden his potential.
It’s never easy to manage a team that’s striving to cross the finish line while encountering obstacles along the way. Tempers flare, people make mistakes and productivity suffers. These symptoms all point to employee burnout. In other cases, employees may be tired of perceived unfairness. They may believe that other staff members are getting the chance to work on more exciting projects, or they may feel that someone else is getting preferential treatment in terms of taking time off. Employees in these situations can also exhibit symptoms of burnout – specifically, their work output lags. As the manager, it’s your job to engage these employees, in one-on-one conversations, about what’s wrong. Acknowledging their feelings can go a long way toward helping them re-engage with their work. Look into their complaints and fix the problems that are under your control and keep the lines of communication open.
Your team members count on you to help them with their career development and to maintain a workplace environment they can look forward to being a part of. You can improve both of these aspects by planning out what to talk about in your regular one-on-one meetings and then following through on your promises.