It never ceases to amaze me that in many workplaces no one really knows each other. But study after study shows that the reason for a high turnover isn’t always lack of pay or benefits (although that can play into it) but a problem with company culture or lack of culture. If you want to get to know your staff better, there are ways to do this that aren’t intimidating and can bring your company closer together.
1. Create an Open-Door Culture
In many businesses, the top dog is in an office somewhere, and most people don’t even know where that office is. How can people come to your with their problems and concerns if they don’t know where you are? This is not the way to run a business because it can lead to a higher turnover rate. Your team needs to feel you care about them.
It can be difficult if you have a large staff but taking the extra time to offer and let everyone know that you are there to listen is an excellent way to encourage people to get to know you and for you to get to know them. After all these staff members are also the face of your business. Many times customers/patients will see them before they see you.
2. Reorganize Meeting Rooms
If you often have meetings with the staff, change things up now and then to make the room feel different. Instead of having it set up with you at the head, set it up so you are in a circle and everyone can see each other. This tends to make your staff feel more welcome. They will also be more likely to speak up.
3. Have a Fun Break Room
Expecting everyone to work without a break is unrealistic. Most people are more productive if they have frequent breaks without judgment. Set up a break room that they can use to have fun and think so that they are more creative. Plus, you can wander in there and have conversations with people in a calm environment.
Put games like a ping-pong table in the break room, healthy snacks, and water and juice in addition to coffee. You can always play a quick game with one of your employees if you drop by too.
4. Be a Mentor
Most often a boss wants to be just a boss, but what if you lead as if you are a mentor instead? Think about how that would affect the other person. You may have younger members of your staff who will move on to other jobs. Your mentoring can prepare them for those new positions and foster an environment where they want to achieve even more in their current position. Help them. Train them. Mentor them and give them good advice about their careers. They will appreciate it and never forget you.
5. Ask Questions
When you meet every single new employee, try asking specific questions about something you really want to know about them. It should be something that relaxes them. Like, “Are you a cat or dog person” or, “where is your dream vacation?” Pamela Potts from Neo Systems Corp likes to ask everyone the same question so that she knows at least one fact that’s similar about every single employee.
6. Take Them To Lunch
Depending on how many people you have working for you and your budget, take people to lunch occasionally. You can do it as a group or on an individual basis, working through your entire staff within the year. This is a great way to get to know each person better.
7. Arrange After-Hours Events
Whether it is a Friday after hours regular thing or a holiday thing, try to have regular events for all staff outside of working hours. Do not require that they attend but make it worth their while. And of course they should bring their spouse, date, and when appropriate, family. This might sound old school, but it can help people feel like they are an important part of your business.
8. Meet Weekly
Within the office, you need to meet weekly or at least monthly with the entire staff in a way that helps them feel more like a part of the team so you can all get to know each other better.
Have you ever seen the show Say Yes To The Dress? Every morning the staff gets together to talk about the clients coming into the shop. This prepares them for their day. Consider having daily meetings to get people psyched for the new day and the possibilities it brings.
Let the meetings be stimulating and fun. Have an idea box where you collect ideas, issues, and things to talk about. Make sure people can add to this anonymously. Then pull the information and talk about it and resolve it during the meetings. If you take it seriously, they will too. If you meet but then implement nothing that they want, it won’t work.
9. Be Authentic
If you want your staff to be comfortable around you, then you must be a real person around them. Don’t try to put on a fake persona as “the boss” but also don’t forget that they lead very different lives than you do – especially if there is a huge difference in income. Find ways to connect outside of that issue and be generous, caring, and transparent about where the business is going, so there are no surprises.
Building this open-door culture doesn’t mean you let go of your power at all. It proves that you want to create a situation where your staff is pulling for your business and you as hard as they do for themselves. It means you create fans and friends on your team that have your back and will stick with you for the long term instead of looking for the next best thing.
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