How do you feel when your leader says “hello” to you?
I was recently speaking with someone who recounted a story of how she said “good morning” to her leader and he replied to her “don’t say good morning to me. I am not a social person.” Seriously? Then I remembered one of my own stories.
I was a fairly new leader and when I arrived at work I would take a route directly to my office, saying “good morning” along the way to the people along the route. It happened to be the same 3 people because of the geography of where they sat on my route to my office. One day, a courageous team member pulled me aside and asked why I liked these 3 people better than everyone else. I was shocked! From my perspective, I was just heading into my office. From the perspective of the remaining 7 people on the team, I was favouring the 3 people I said good morning to every day. Whoa! Mind blown!
When I looked at it from their perspective, I quickly changed my behaviour. It might have taken me an extra minute to do a tour of the space and say good morning to the team or stop and give a good morning to the team as a whole. The point is, my intention didn’t matter, but the outcome sure did. I became far more aware of this simple behaviour and the power it could have to either feel inclusive or divisive. I was lucky enough to have a team member brave enough to voice their concern. Without that, I would have gone on obliviously dividing my team.
Are you obliviously dividing your team? Are you unknowingly favouring some team members and excluding others? Do you have a way to obtain honest feedback about your behaviours?
Here are some leadership tips:
1) Treat your employees like they are your customers. Make eye contact, smile and greet them. Say ‘hello’, ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’. You don’t have to socialize, but you should be kind and at the very least, acknowledge their presence. (I would consider this a bare minimum.)
2) Ask for feedback regularly. Check in with your team members on your behaviours. Are you ensuring that people feel included and belong? If the trust isn’t there yet with your team, send out a survey they can complete anonymously.
3) Take the feedback seriously and do something with it. One great way to build trust is to get honest with yourself with the feedback, address it with the team, and make a change. As the leader, you have the power to change your behaviours for the betterment of the team as a whole.
Employees are going to be the difference maker in any organization. As a leader, don’t you want the most engaged, highest performing team? This one tip is going to help show that you care about your employees. If you accept their feedback and do something, it will show you are human, care about their opinion, are vulnerable enough to own it, and are vulnerable to make a change. These are all pieces in building the trust foundation. And trust is the key to a high performing team.
Happy Leading 😊