I once worked for a leader who was very introverted and stoic, and often had trouble connecting with his employees. Morale was low in the office, and the executive had a hard time understanding why his staff didn’t enjoy their work environment. He viewed his role as setting the direction of the organization and delivering results. It didn’t cross his mind that the people side of business was the most important.
It is not uncommon for leaders to struggle in the area of engaging and connecting with employees. Many leaders worked their way up to the top by delivering excellent results; many times in spite of their interpersonal skills. Yet interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence are important competencies for leaders to be successful. The ability to connect with employees on a personal level and engage them in the vision and goals of the organization will propel the company to success.
Employees want to know their leaders are human. They want to know you play with your kids on the weekends and go to soccer games. They want to know you can have a good time, relax and joke around. In short, employees want to work for people who they can relate to.
When I first start coaching some executives, they often don’t see the value in spending time and effort building relationships with employees. They see this as a waste of time; something that would be nice to do, but isn’t at the top of their list. Yet this is precisely where most leaders fail. Spending time cultivating organizational relationships will make it easier to get things done through people. Your employees will want to go above and beyond to help you achieve the goals. You will get better results by putting the people first.
This is not a “touchy-feely” subject. I have seen leaders derails their careers by not taking the people side of things seriously. In fact, I believe emotional intelligence is the biggest competency lacking in many leaders.
So take some time today to walk around the office and chat with your employees. Ask them about their weekend or their upcoming vacation. Ask about their kids and share some things you are doing with your kids. Tell them about a hobby outside of work. Recognize them for great performance. And be genuine. If you make this a habit, I guarantee you will see happier, more engaged employees.