Don’t overlook the value of investing in your team members

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Many understand the importance of financial investments and take steps to ensure a more secured future. They contribute to 401Ks, build up their savings accounts, establish college funds for their children, etc. Some even hire professional advisors to oversee their investment strategy. Where people put their hard-earned money is one of the most important decisions they can make and is often done with a detailed game plan in place.

As a manager, this same philosophy should be applied to how you invest in your people—the individual team members who show up day after day to contribute to the success of your brand. Taking the time to care about their well-being and communicate their value is just as important as financial strategy, and will have a huge impact on the future of your business.

In previous blog posts, we highlighted the first two steps in how to be a great manager: create clarity and serve. Here we dive into step 3: invest.

Communicate each employee’s contribution to the brand as a whole

An engaged employee doesn’t just see their job description as a list of daily tasks—they view it as an important piece to the overall function of the company. As a manager, it is your responsibility to articulate this big picture meaning to each member of your team—every person in each role should feel they have value to the outcome of the brand’s success.

I had the opportunity to observe a great example of this years ago while working with the chief medical officer of a large hospital in Texas. While we walked through the facility, he made it a point to visit the environmental services department, an area that didn’t see frequent management visits. But rather than speaking with the department head, he visited with several hourly team members, thanking them for their service. He also asked them one very important question: What are you responsible for?

One employee replied her primary task was sterilizing surgical rooms. But the CMO changed her perspective a bit, noting that her role is much bigger than that—it’s creating an infection-free environment for every patient and staff member. He then shared reports demonstrating the importance of their department to the overall satisfaction of the hospital, and the team walked away with a clear understanding of how they contribute to that success.

The CMO understood that for the whole hospital to work, every team member needs to do their part. His ability to help every individual understand the significance of their role was a great example of exemplary leadership.

Take the time to know each individual who works for you

Your team is comprised of individuals with varying interests, working styles, goals, and viewpoints. It’s important for a manager to take the time to understand these differences and get to know each team member individually. This will help you evaluate the most effective way to offer motivation, recognition, and guidance on varying levels.

Think about the best manager you ever had and some of the most compelling reasons this person made an impact on your life. Chances are good that what is coming to mind is this manager made an investment in you personally. They understood your goals, interests, and development objectives, and perhaps provided some personal advice from time to time. It’s also likely this manager didn’t do just one thing that made them so memorable and effective, but rather provided a series of small actions and conversations that demonstrated to you they were fully invested in helping you achieve and maximize your abilities (work or otherwise).  

One of the easiest things you can do as an effective manager is create a “cheat sheet” that contains all the different ways your employees like to be recognized, spend their free time, engage in activities at school/outside of work, etc.  Knowing these details will allow you to ask the right questions, implement the best motivators, and demonstrate you’re invested in them as a person, not simply as an employee.

Create a cohesive team

In addition to getting to know each employee on an individual level, a manager should find a way to bond the team members together into a unified group. This can be done by encouraging peer-to-peer recognition, sharing CX team results, and celebrating group accomplishments together.

Try some of these tips for creating positive team recognition:

  • Make a habit of catching people doing something right and let them know about it
  • Schedule time to walk around and check out what’s happening with your team
  • When handing out praise, make sure it’s sincere
  • Read positive customer comments at staff meetings
  • Don’t just reward the superstar salesperson—acknowledge all positive actions of team members
  • Send hand-written thank you cards to team members who have done well

Worth the investment

It takes time and effort for a manager to truly invest in their team members—and it’s not a challenge that every leader takes on. But for those who do, the reward is a group of engaged employees who believe in their contribution, feel valued and understood, and strive to work together as a team.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post where we’ll look into the fourth and final part of the manager mantra: every day.

To learn more about what engaged employees can do for your business, download “Five things we learned from talking to one million employees.”

Jeff Jokerst | VP, Client Insights

Customer Experience Update