Often, when you are managing or leading, the last thing you feel you have time for is getting to know your team. We assume it will come with the job, but few things come without effort.
With an already full plate, a maxed-out schedule and projects struggling to gain traction, it can be difficult to find time to get to know people.
However, getting to know your employees is crucial. It can change the work dynamics for everyone and encourage your team to do the same. People are often drawn to others who are interested in them. So, naturally, employees are drawn to leaders who are inquisitive themselves.
Here are seven easy but effective ways to get to know your team better:
- Take a group out to lunch. Regularly gather a group of employees to treat to lunch, and spend time engaging with just that group. When there are fewer employees around, it’s less pressure to have to talk to everyone. A practice of this encourages more informed and authentic conversations.
- Create a culture of two-way communication. It’s easy to get stuck in a mode of one-way conversations between managers and employees. Instead, encourage open communication among your entire team. Lead meetings in a way that encourages discussions among employees but also keeps them engaged.
- Ask fun questions. Use meetings to pick a fun, lighthearted prompt and ask everyone in the team to answer it. This may catch your team off guard at first, but asking your employees questions will quickly allow you to understand each individual better.
- Schedule routine celebrations. Every month, acknowledge birthdays or accomplishments in your company. If it’s celebrating a win, highlight the individuals that made that happen. If it’s birthdays you are acknowledging, make a habit of taking this time to focus on those individuals.
- Walk around the office. Take some extra time to be with your team and occasionally check in on them. While you can manage as you make your way around and gain a better understanding of your company’s culture, you can also use this time to engage in relationships with the team.
- Take extra time to listen. Most of us are used to asking, “how are you?” and receiving the typical “good” or “super busy” responses. But be aware when a reply may be asking for more attention than just passing. Be engaged in moments to listen when a team member needs to talk.
- Mix it up. Grab a coffee or donut with a coworker. Even during the pandemic, new apps such as donut .ai, which can easily be installed to Slack messages, provide unique ways to stay in touch.
The culture of a workplace is automatically improved when teams know each other well. Of course, depending on your organization’s size, it may be harder for some.
Either way, becoming well acquainted with your employees will improve your team’s performance, support your vision and allow your team to feel more valued in their roles.