“My manager never returns my calls. She only calls me when it fits her agenda. That drives me crazy.”
“I don’t think she really cares.” — Conversation overheard at airport terminal
Oftentimes leaders get so focused on the “big things” that they forget to take care of the basics, like showing the people on their team that their leader actually cares about them. As the poet Robert W. Service said, “It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out; it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.” Many times the “grain of sand” that keeps someone disengaged at work is lack of attention and encouragement from their leader.
William James, recognized as the father of American psychology, stated that the most fundamental psychological need is to be appreciated.. Everyone has the need to be appreciated. The unspoken question from your team is: do you care about them as a person—as more than just another cog in the company wheel?
When people are in the midst of uncertainty, are overworked, feel they are carrying a disproportionate share of the load, or believe they are being mistreated, they immediately assume you do not care. That isn’t fair, but that’s just the way it is.
The main reason that great people leave good organizations is simply because their need for respect and appreciation is not being met. Their perception is that they work hard and do the right things, yet nobody pays attention. People leave people long before they leave organizations. They give up hope that their leader will ever meet their needs. They conclude that a leader they know nothing about will be better than the one they know.
One of your top priorities as a leader is to be available for your team. If you are always busy in “management land,” you send the signal that everything else is more important than your team. That is a bad signal to send to the people you need to perform in order for you to be successful.
Everyone needs to know that they are okay. Don’t be a jerk and leave them guessing if they are okay or not. Encourage.
If you want to achieve extraordinary results with class, read and apply The First Two Rules of Leadership: Don’t be Stupid. Don’t Be a Jerk. It will help improve morale, decrease turnover, increase everyone’s job satisfaction, and you will have a whole lot more fun leading.
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