The late, great Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The answer to whether it matters whether you make your employees feel good, is YES. Even Forbes.com agrees. In their article “11 Simple Ways To Show Your Employees You Care” they say, “If leaders disregard the importance of connecting with employees, they lose the benefit of a dedicated, long-term team.”
This is profound wisdom, not only for leaders who want high performing teams that produce excellent results, but it’s an important lesson for people at all levels of an organization’s hierarchy. Although true for all generations in the workplace, it is even more so when managing millennials who want to feel like engaged, productive contributors to the team.
Here are a few ideas to put into practice that can help the people you work with feel good about themselves in your presence.
- If you’re in a leadership role, involve your team in setting performance goals and solving important business problems. This promotes buy-in all the way down the line, and it creates a better understanding of where each person’s responsibilities fit into the big picture.
- Praise and reward behavior that advances business goals and aligns with company values. Employees are often unhappy because of a disconnect between what they do at their desks every day and how it impacts business objectives. Praise and reward of relevant goals offers them a chance to feel good about something they might not realize is critical to the organization’s overall success.
- Provide meaningful challenges that inspire excellence, and developmental opportunities that promote growth. Stretching people allows them to feel good about becoming more than they imagine they could. Having someone put their faith in you feels great, so make it clear that you believe they have what it takes to achieve this goal.
- Share what you know about information about upcoming changes and the direction of the company. In William Bridges’ bestseller “Managing Transitions,” he explains that people at the top forget to share what they consider insignificant details with those affected by a change until it happens. This makes the change feel like a jolt and unnecessary. His advice: “Give people information, and do it again and again.” He says for every week of upset you avoid by hiding the truth, you gain a month of bitterness and mistrust.” You don’t’ want anyone to feel that way about you or your company.
- As appropriate, judiciously take people into your confidence. It can build trust and strengthen the relationship.
Making people feel good at work might be viewed as a luxury, but it managers who use these techniques coupled with an empathetic approach to manage are better positioned to lead the emerging workforce that doesn’t prescribe to a “just suck it up” work philosophy.