Getting to Know You...

Mar 6, 2019 | Todd Bynum | @toddbynum


In my last post, I mentioned three factors that author Patrick Lencioni states lead to unhappy, disengaged employees.  They are anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurability.  In this post, I will be going a bit deeper with the first of these…anonymity.

In this context, anonymity refers to when an employee feels that their manager doesn’t care about them or know about them, both what they’re doing at work and what’s going on in their life.

Based on personal experience, the most satisfying and effective teams I have been on have been ones where the leader took a genuine interest in me and others on the team.  By taking the time to get to know the individuals on the team, the leader builds trust and demonstrates that his/her employees have value beyond the tasks they perform on a daily basis.  Connecting on a human level can build relationships that improve loyalty, productivity and engagement.

Of course, building these types of relationships is easy for some and challenging for others.  If you fall into the latter category, here are some tips to help get you started.

Ask questions with the intent of getting to know each team member better.  Questions that allow them to share information about what makes them tick, what interests they have, what they do for fun, what talents (hidden or otherwise) they have, or what keeps them busy outside of work can help employees feel understood and appreciated.  Oh, and don’t forget to answer the same questions so that your team gets to know you better, too.  This process allows both parties to develop a genuine interest and empathy for each other.

Have lunch or coffee with your team.  Doing something outside of the work setting can provide an environment where sharing can feel more natural.  If your team is geographically dispersed like mine is, you can host virtual coffee breaks…15-30 minute virtual conversations to connect with teammates.  We use Skype, but there are lots of options like Facebook Messenger, Google Duo, FaceTime, or WhatsApp.  You can share what project you’re working on, what challenges you face, what accomplishments you’re most proud of, along with what plans you may have for the upcoming weekend, or where you’re going for summer vacation.

The topics aren’t as important as being genuine and sincere about the connection.  If you’re going through the motion to check a box, people will sense it, which can do more harm than good.

Do you have any tips for getting to know your work team better?  If so, share in the comments and help others benefit from your experiences.

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