Years ago, after working a month in a new job, the director of the organization walked into my office. She politely asked me how everything was going. I replied, “fine.” Then she said, “Is there anything you need?” I was speechless. I told her as an employee of other companies, not once had I ever been asked that.”
Upon hearing her question, I leaped into a different thought-form. A new perception emerged leading me to develop a process I use when coaching leaders, teams and employees.
When people struggle with issues, they need to be respected, listened to and heard. However, when their tendency is talk about or blame others it only adds to the problem. Your job as a leader or manager is to make sure that they understand you’re there to talk about them – not others.
In an honest and forthright manner begin with, “I’m concerned about you.” Ask them about their job. Listen carefully and find out what concerns they have. Let them know that your intent is to take care of their needs. By doing this you’re leading them away from drama towards practical solutions.
Most people want to do a good job. They want the opportunity to do more. They want the tools to accomplish more. As you listen and they define what they need to feel good about the work they do, you are building trust. You are building a bridge to a new way of thinking.
Help People to Help Themselves
Your demeanor plays a powerful role in the result of your conversation. You might be dealing with an angry person, a rebel, a timid person and a variety of emotions. Your job is to stay on track and not be swayed by your own emotions.
Repeat back to them their voiced concerns and needs. Let them know that you recognize their positive qualities – that you value them. To be comforted, heard and cared for is sometimes all an employee needs to begin to feel a sense of pride in their work. That alone can spark renewed enthusiasm and productivity.
After you’ve discerned their needs and a strategy for meeting them, leave the door open. Ask them to call you. When they do, if possible, go to them and sit and listen. “Tell me how it’s going. Are you needs being met? How can I help you? Follow through is a crucial step of the process. It lets the person know you care by taking the time to continue the conversation.
When you practice this process you will find it takes care of the difficulty. It will open your eyes to the person beyond the employee persona. You will understand them, their job and their needs. Just by looking a little closer at your staff, their qualities and contributions, you will strengthen your belief in them and find yourself in a place to inspire them beyond measure.
“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”
~ Harvey Firestone