Every employer, no matter its purpose, needs to establish a strong connection between leadership and staff. Any gulf between the two, even if it’s a small one, can inhibit productivity, diminish morale and make it harder to retain good employees. Here are five ways to strengthen the bridge between your organization’s leaders and the workers carrying out your strategic vision:
1. Give employees a voice. Set up an old-fashioned suggestion box or perhaps a more contemporary email address or software solution for employees to vent concerns and ask questions. Ownership or executive management can reply to queries with the broadest implications, while other managers could handle questions specific to a given department or position. Consider publishing selected answers in company-wide emails or feature them in an internal newsletter or blog.
2. Hold meetings with leadership. At regular intervals, hold “town hall” meetings with staff members to announce organizational changes, discuss issues and answer questions. Be careful not to overdo it; too many meetings can be disruptive and frustrating. However, just the right amount can allow employees to get to know and trust those in top leadership positions.
You might even want to start holding an organizational retreat — or get back to holding one if you’ve curtailed this practice during the pandemic. These events also allow you to answer questions directly, as well as challenge employees to come up with their own strategic ideas.
3. Get back to socialization. Leaders can look dull and distant if they never share personal details or socialize with staff. Again, many organizations have understandably cut back on social events during the COVID-19 crisis but will likely be easing back into them soon. Consider holding a picnic outdoors (as weather allows) or hosting an outing to a sporting event so members of leadership can mingle socially with staff.
4. Pop in for a visit. If your organization maintains offices or other physical facilities, leaders should occasionally stop in for impromptu visits or formal meetings. Give managers and employees a chance to converse candidly. Many staff members will get a morale boost from seeing someone in charge take an active interest in their departments or locations.
5. Share a job for a day. Establish a program under which a leader sets aside a day to learn about a specific position in the organization. He or she can shadow an employee who performs that job and let the staff member explain what really occurs day-to-day. The leader should observe closely and ask questions but generally stay out of the way. Under the program, clarify upfront that you’re not playing “gotcha” but rather trying to better understand how things get done and what improvements you might make.
By maintaining a positive visibility and interacting regularly with employees, your staff will likely feel more recognized, appreciated and, therefore, be more productive. You also may gather ideas for eliminating costly redundancies and inefficiencies. You could even discover your next big strategic move.