When employees needs are not met, they find it difficult — if not impossible — to focus on anything else. As their leader, you play a pivotal role in ensuring that those needs are met. If you put in the time and effort, employees will perform at a higher level, will be more loyal and will be much more likely to hit their goals.
So what do employees want from their leaders? Here’s what I people tell me most often:
- Empathy/to be heard and understood
- Opportunities to grow
- Open communication
- Autonomy and the chance to make their own decisions
- Challenging projects and goals
- Clear communication
- A paycheck
Notice that the first items are primarily about relationships. Even when the list starts shifting to personal development, task accomplishment and money issues, there are still relationship based items mixed in.
While you likely have the authority to grant four of the items (pay, challenging projects and goals, autonomy, growth opportunities) as you see fit, it’s the other six items (trust, respect, appreciation, empathy, open and clear communication), that you likely have to work at the most. You have the power to directly influence those items, but it takes your commitment and an investment of time and effort to build and maintain a strong work relationship with each of your direct reports.
So, I ask you: “Are you investing enough time on the relationships with the people you lead?”
If you feel you could do better (and most of us can), check out these resources for more tips and advice:
Improving Workplace Relationships: 4 Responses to Dealing with Drama
6 Ways to Nurture Professional Relationships
Trust Takes 2 Forms—Here’s How to Foster Both in the Workplace
Create a “Pocket of Excellence” that Allows Employees to Thrive
The High Cost of Low Trust
9 Communication Tips You Need to Master if You Want to Lead