When having to go to the medical doctor for an appointment and upon entering the surgery, the door is shut behind you and all focus of the doctor falls on you — questions are asked about your condition, you are examined and a suggested course of treatment is offered. There are no distractions, no pharmaceutical representatives are allowed into the office and no calls are made unless they relate directly to your condition. The doctor channels all his/her skills and experience into empathy, assurance and finding a solution. You experience individualised attention.
In the workplace, all employees need individualised attention — maybe not frequently, but regularly. The human being is designed to interact, collaborate and share ideas, opinions and offer solutions, yes, even at lower levels in the organisation. Managers, therefore, need to create appropriate space and time in their respective schedules to facilitate conversations, but they need to be fully present during these moments. Any form of distraction or other concern is perceived very quickly, resulting in disheartened staff and ebbing trust. In particular, those in leadership positions should focus on:
- Personal health and wellness — polite enquiry into the wellbeing of employees, taking an interest in their respective families and celebrating milestones (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) demonstrate that the leader cares. Authentic care, in turn, builds loyalty and trust.
- Concerns (both personal and work-related) — concerns unaddressed lead to a negative impact on performance. As personal performance not only accelerates company success, but also engenders a sense of self-worth and value in the individual’s contribution, performance (individual and team) should be a daily focus of every manager. Concerns, therefore, should be solved swiftly.
- Removing obstacles — bureaucratic or outdated systems, ineffective or inefficient resources and other business “clutter” should be either eliminated or replaced with modern and more effective tools and processes. Obstacles frustrate employees, particularly those that really want to perform.
- Ideas and suggestions — not every idea or suggestion is workable, but all ideas should be welcomed. The manager can facilitate sessions of exploring ideas, tweaking them and finding potential improvements. Employees love to be part of decision-making on any improvements that are made.
- Recognition — showing appreciation for a job well done or recognising employees when they offer discretionary effort. Managers should link recognition to the company’s values, goals and strategy (e.g. “… this has really assisted us in reaching the following objectives …”). All recognition should be offered swiftly and sincerely.
- Staff development — grow employees. Stretch them in terms of their thinking and the acquisition of new skills. Provide training opportunities to close any skill gaps.
- “Big picture” information — insufficient information leads to frustration amongst employees. They need to have a connection to a worthy cause in order to be able to link their respective roles to the “way ahead”. Withholding information, therefore, is unhelpful.
- Feedback — all employees want to know how well they are doing, especially what their respective bosses feel about their work and contribution. Provide feedback regularly.
Individualised attention from managers should be the experience of all employees — time spent connecting with leaders around issues that relate to wellness, roles, performance and concerns. All employees want to be treated as genuine “partners” in assisting the business realise its objectives.