Weeding The Garden

The average workday is 8 hours, which equates to 40 hours a week. However, for many employees and managers alike, the hours worked per week can quickly exceed 50 or 60.  As a result, many people spend more time with their co-workers than they do with their own families.

A University of Michigan survey found that strong friendships can be developed at work. Americans invite 32% of their closest colleagues to their homes, while 66% of Polish employees extend invitations. The report goes on to say that 45% of co-workers in India have even gone on vacations together.

A Family Affair

Many employees can become quite close to their co-workers, and managers should take note. Yes, it’s a business and work comes first, but for quite a few people it’s more than that. They work together, eat lunch (and in France often dinner as well) together, and spend time outside of work together.

It’s a “family” – or at least a “close knit community”.

The phrase “don’t let the sun go down on a bad argument” is used quite often when it comes to relationships, particularly between spouses. However, this can also be applied to leadership through the idea of “weeding the garden daily” which I wrote about in my special report “Untapped: How to Harness the Potential of your Unnatural leaders“.

Managers may see them as “just” employees having a disagreement, but if the employees consider themselves, family, it might be more serious than it appears- emotions are involved.

Leadership is an improvisational art. You won’t always make the right decisions- neither will the natural nor the unnatural leaders in your team(s). However, it’s important to understand how employees perceive their place in the company: Is it “just a job”, or is it“family”?

Taking the Lead

An important part of leadership means being willing to be the one who goes first. Attending to any issues, disputes or negative experiences as you go so they don’t pile up and become overwhelming. (This method of dealing with things is just as critical when dealing with family issues at home as it is in dealing with “family” issues in the office). Doing this regularly allows you to recommit to your employees and reinforce what they should expect – both from you and each other.

Not letting issues fester or go ignored is the responsibility of a leader. It also provides an example of being a good role-model and how to cultivate great relationships.

Research suggests that people need four pieces of encouragement and praise from their managers and leaders for every one negative or critical piece of feedback.

People are particularly sensitive to negative feedback and comments, so you have to focus on catching people doing the right things and take the time to acknowledge and appreciate them. It takes intentionally positive feedback to build and nurture a healthy culture within your organisation– one that positively reinforces constructive relationships.

Positive feedback can come in many forms at work:

  • An email sent to the entire team or individually
  • Acknowledgement in employee meetings
  • Certificates
  • Office perks (parking space, gift card, free lunch, etc)
  • Buying someone flowers or a box of chocolates
  • Casual dress for a day

A recent study shows that 69% of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. Simple gestures like these can go a long way to instilling a sense of pride and accomplishment in employees. These positive feelings are magnified if they see the group as a “family” and not just coworkers.

Like members of our own families, each employee is different. With that said, determining how much praise or positive feedback they need may take some time, but once determined, you’re more likely to consistently enjoy being around your people. So resolve issues as soon as they arise. Weed the garden as you go!

Action Step: Get more curious, right now. Try talking 20% of the time and listening 80% of the time.

Listening and Observing

Being a good listener is one of the most important traits a manager can have. The ability to listen to your employees is a great asset in helping your business grow.

Listening is more than just hearing what a person is saying. Be mindful of nonverbal communication as well. Approximately 85% of communication is nonverbal, so it’s wise to be mindful of what people say when they are talking with their bodies as well as their mouths.

Sometimes, a person just wants to be heard. They would like to feel as though they are an important part of the company or family. Giving them a chance to let their voice be heard can go a long way towards employee satisfaction.

Explore Additional Resources:

1. Review: Friends at Work? Not So Much courtesy of New York Times

2. Website: Statistics On The Importance Of Employee Feedback – Officevibe.com

3. Special Report: Untapped: How to Harness the Potential of your Unnatural Leaders by Glenn A. Williams

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