In a survey reported in Forbes magazine, staff members and subordinates were asked what they wished their boss would do better.
The number one answer by far: “Communicate with me.”
Here’s the funny thing, I bet those leaders are communicating with their team members. They just aren’t talking about the right things.
If you lead a paid staff or work with large numbers of volunteers who serve in “staff” type roles, you are leading a team.
So what would your team say about your communication with them?
If our only communication with our team is about what WE want to talk about then they probably do complain about us. They don’t just want to hear what we have to say, they want to be able share as well. They don’t want to just talk about “work," they want to know that you care about them as an individual.
So, let me share with you 4 questions that I ask my team on a regular basis.
1. How are you doing in life: spiritually, emotionally, physically, intellectually?
This is more than the trite “how are you doing” that we might ask while passing someone in the hallway. I genuinely want you to unpack for me your current spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual state.
Sometimes their answer is “I’m doing great” and that’s enough. But over time I’ve had the opportunity to help hold them accountable to some physical fitness or dietary goals, recommend a book that would help with an emotional issue they were walking through, or walk them through a season of difficulty.
2. What do I need to know about the areas you lead?
This can include so many things.
Maybe they had a recent “win” that they want to celebrate with me, or maybe there is a volunteer causing trouble and they aren’t sure how to handle it. Perhaps they are considering a change in curriculum or have a budget concern.
No matter what it is, this is my way of keeping a pulse on their area before larger problems arise and I might be caught off-guard.
3. What are you working on right now?
This is more than a micromanagement question.
I’m not as concerned with if they are returning emails as I am that they are managing their present responsibilities with an eye toward future endeavors that will help us be successful.
Depending on their answer I may be able to redirect their efforts toward things that will serve us better.
4. How can I help you?
Not every leader is comfortable asking this question.
They think it makes them look weak, gives authority to those under them or exposes a flaw in the leadership.
However, the opposite is actually true. It requires strength to admit that you may have made a mistake or overlooked something, or to position yourself as a servant to those you lead.
The answers to these questions help me know my team better. Over time they come to know that I’m genuinely interested in them. They open up to me. They trust me.
What more can I ask for!?
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