You’ve read the Gallup data – 70% of the workforce is not engaged or actively disengaged in their work. So how do we connect with employees and customers so they feel we care about their careers, their business, and their future?
1. Care about what they care about
Your employees and customers and loved ones have the same issues that you have every day. But we discount them because we think they are not relevant to the work environment or we don’t know how to make things better so we disengage.
Questions that can be answered with one word are not conversation starters. “How was your weekend?” is not as personal as “What has been the favorite part about preparing for the reunion?” followed on Monday by, “So what was the funniest thing that happened?”
2. Be with them in their lowest moments
This requires incredible self-management. When we notice a colleague has self-doubt or is in pain we have to first identify whether that triggers our own discomfort. Often it does and then we flee the situation because it brings back bad memories. We sometimes masque our discomfort with indifference or minimize their pain by one-upping them with our own similar situation. Can you be an observer of that urge building inside you enough to step into their situation to comfort them without assuming their anguish? Can you lay down your guard and just listen without dictating what they should do – often when you couldn’t do that yourself?
You need not provide a remedy for their personal situation. They just need to know you hear them and can come alongside. “Let me know if there is anything I can do for you,” seems trite compared to “I sense that you are going through a difficult time. I am interested if you want to tell me about it.” Regarding customers “If you use our service you’ll get more clients,” does not establish the trust that this does, “As I listen to you I hear the frustration you experience losing clients when you are working so hard to find them. If I could show you how to keep them and not spend anything more than you already are would that be of value?”
3. Shift from certainty to inquiry
Nothing is ever certain – with clients or employees. Squeeze in between the moment you want to jump to a conclusion and where you can allow curiosity to be your guide. Think of yourself as a lead explorer on an important journey to a place you have never been. You have a map to get there and plenty of experience but you have never been to this place with these followers.
You will bring the tools and knowledge to build systems. But you don’t know how the town’s people live or strive to live so as to build something sustainable for them. In order to understand the dynamics, you have to get to know them. “How would you define your biggest challenge?” “What is most important to you?” “What would you like to see happen in a perfect world?”
Mary Lee Gannon, ACC, CAE is an executive coach and corporate CEO who helps busy leaders get off the treadmill to nowhere to be more effective, earn more, be more calm and enjoy connected relationships with the people who matter while it still matters. Watch her FREE Master Class training on Three Things to Transform Your Life and Career Right Now at www.MaryLeeGannon.com.