Last week I took to social media to ask the question “What do you value most about your company and your leader?” It wasn’t a large sample, but big enough to get some diversity of thought. Take a look at some of the responses I got back.
As I read through the results, I realised how important it is to ask questions like this. People are obviously looking for different things from their companies and their leaders.
To that end, I have a question for you: As a leader, have you ever sat down with each of your employees, one to one, and asked, “What makes you feel valued?” or “How can I serve you?”
This is the starting point. After you receive an initial answer, dig a little deeper. You may be surprised at what you learn. Let me give you some examples from three of the topics identified above.
Suppose someone answered your question by saying “I want to be appreciated.” You might think you know what they mean by that statement, but keep in mind that everyone is different. One person may define appreciation as a pat on the back and another may be thinking of a raise in salary. Take the time to find out what appreciation means to that person. Assume nothing.
The same goes for flexibility. If a person says “I need more flexibility,” are they asking for more control over their schedule, over their tasks, or both? Keep an open mind. (Note: as of June 30, 2014, all employees in the UK have the right to request flexible working hours.)
When the Olympics were held in the UK, many employers let their people work from home to beat the traffic. The mayor of London at the time, Boris Johnson, said he thought working from home would encourage people to waste time. However, companies surveyed by the Telegraph said during that time their employees actually were more productive—and it fostered a positive work-from-home perception. So don’t be afraid to test out new ideas on a trial basis!
Opportunities for Growth
Growth is a big issue these days. However, it gets tough when a company that is not performing well isn’t able to offer traditional growth opportunities such as promotions. Instead of throwing up your hands, consider other ways you could get creative with growth. This will not only help employees feel valued but also could assist the company in exploring different options.
A recent Gallup survey showed that, worldwide, only 13 percent of employees are engaged at work. This is a scary number. Five of the questions Gallup uses to measure engagement are directly aimed at leaders asking questions and caring about the answers.
So get together with each of your people and ask them questions about what they need and value. You’ll not only learn what makes them tick, you’ll also let them know you care about them as individuals.