Compliments of City of Marietta Georgia via Flickr

The art of becoming a great leader is in developing your ability to leave your own ego at the door; and to recognize the skills and traits you don’t possess and that you need to build a world class organization. Warren Bennis  

In a recent article, Borlongan-Alvarez reports several ways to make employees feel valued; below are some of what I consider the most salient: 

  • Set aside at least 15 minutes at the end of your staff meeting to thank employees who have done something special. Reward them with a flower or a certificate of appreciation.
  • Take a different employee to lunch once a month—on you. Employees will appreciate the one-on-one time with you and you will get to know them on a more personal level.
  • Have an open-door policy. Your employees should not feel intimidated when having to approach you to share their concerns.

A few of my own include the following:

  • Delegation, or empowerment; this entails trust in the people who work with you (not for you). Trust is the opposite of feeling that things will fall apart unless workers are the recipients of your supervision.
  • Ensure that the best and not the most boisterous are heard during meetings. 
  • Engage in self-management: ask yourself – am I proud of what I did? Would I want to see it again? Be concerned with the wreckage you leave in the wake of an emotional tirade.
  • Create a safe space; is your sphere of influence a place where workers bow down to bullies, and pay credence to the most competitive?
  • Don’t develop a bad habit of leaving other people holding the bag. 
  • Try not to thwart individuals in their quest for affirmation – actively look for opportunities to praise. 
  • Try the obvious – tell them they’re valued. This may seem like a no brainer, but how often does it occur? Remember that you’re dealing with human entities who need warm fuzzies, care, and feeding. Their petals can be easily damaged.

People are keeping a mental inventory of their interactions with you, and they’re doing mental calculus to discern whether future discourse is to their benefit. Keep in mind they’re keeping score.

As Buckingham and Coffman suggest in First Break All the Rules, negative responses to the following questions can result in an “easy to leave” profile:

  • Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person? 
  • At work, do my opinions seem to count? 
  • In the last seven days, have I received praise or recognition for good work? 
  • Is there someone who encourages my development? 

As a boss, it’s to your benefit to purvey happiness. Employees who feel good about themselves exhibit a spillover effect (both to customers, and to their coworkers). They also work in a more synergistic fashion, accomplishing more with less.

The civility principle is underscored by our limited time on earth: why spend it making things unpleasant for other people? Your behavior goes beyond your sphere of influence. Consider the legacy you want to leave, and the face you present as representative of your affiliations. Based on your behavior, would people want to join the same clubs? Your every act is an advertisement – make sure others want to see the show.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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