Infocusselling’s Blog

June 10, 2008

Engagement: CARING

Engagement…The Secret of Productivity: Caring

By Scott Seibert, Sales & Leadership Strategist

This is the fifth in a series of articles on Leadership and the management of your most precious asset, your people.

One of the truisms in business is: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.  That is true with customers but that is another article.  It is even more important with your people.  It doesn’t matter whether you have 1 or 1001, all the rest of what you do during the day won’t have any impact unless your people know that you care about them.

The Gallup Organization states in their Best Practices work: “A productive work environment is one in which people feel safe-safe enough to experiment, to make mistakes, to challenge, to share information, to support each other, and where the employees are prepared to give the manager and the company the benefit of the doubt.  None of this can happen if the individual does not feel cared about.  Relationships are the glue that holds great workplaces together.  You, the manager, set the tone for the kinds of relationships that will be fostered among your team.”  Thus the mere act of showing people that you care about them can mean the difference between profit and loss.  Pretty simple.

What in the world then does “caring” mean?  Gallop states that “The best managers define caring as setting each person up for success.”  Think about this.  In the beginning we only hire people in order that we can spend more time doing the things that make us successful.  We set expectations. From those expectations we develop job descriptions.  We can then develop metrics to determine if that person is achieving what we need them to achieve and then appraise their performance to reward them for that achievement.  What then?

If we do nothing beyond that point we will have someone who will work for us until they tire of the mundane essence of the job.  Patrick Lencioni in his book The Three Signs of a Miserable Job calls this Anonymity.  Unless your people understand that you care about them and how they do their job, you can never, let me repeat NEVER, expect them to take on the challenge of making what they do important.  It is because you don’t.  At least it is because you don’t tell them.  If you combine the simple acts of discovering what makes your people want to succeed, and then structuring their job to allow them to do so, you can create a workforce that will force success upon you.

Lencioni writes, “… the simple act of getting to know them” will differentiate you from 99% of their potential employers.  Find out about their families, their problems, their aspirations.  Just ask.  If you do this simple task, your people will open up and let you in.  You will develop trust because of no other reason than you care about them.  The greatest asset an employer can have among his people is trust.  You can not pay for it.  You can not demand it.  You have to earn it.  This is a secret that is very simple.  Try it.  You will be extremely successful if you do it right.

Caring about your people does not mean you have to involve them in your personal life.  You just have to care about theirs.  You make many investments in your business, time, money, etc.  If you make the simple investment of caring about your people, you will get the highest return on any investment you will ever make.

There are some simple tasks that you can follow:

  • Don’t fake it. Gallop teaches that if you don’t care about your people, do not try to persuade them that you do. Either get new people, or get out of management.
  • Tell them. Pick your moments and let them know that you care about their success and that you will work with them to make it happen.
  • Differentiate among your people. NEVER treat all of them the same. Each of us needs to be treated in a certain way to maximize our effectiveness.
  • Always be consistent in that you evaluate them on measurable performance, set each up for success in their function, and you follow through on your commitments.

Like the other aspects of Leadership, these endeavors are not easy, just simple.  It takes a plan and it takes practice to do them right.   If you think you’d like to have some help or guidance, call us.

Scott Seibert is a Sales and Leadership Strategist with ACTUM Group, where he specializes in increasing profit by improving team focus and interaction. For more information on Scott, click here

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