I write this sitting at Coeur d’Alene Coffee, a local cafe known for friendliness. They know everyone’s name and consequently people always smile when they enter and they have a loyal contingent. Employees need the same personalized attention to feel known, to feel cared for, understood, and to feel safe.
This is not tawdry advice. Consider every toxic environment you have seen; did people feel known, understood, cared for, and safe?
Employees leave managers who can’t make them feel understood. It doesn’t matter if the manager actually understands them, they likely do, but if the employee does not perceive to be understood, it doesn’t matter.
WAYS & MEANS OF COMMUNICATING UNDERSTANDING
Get to know the personal lives of your employees and demonstrate tangible care for their professional and personal well being.
Ask for problems they see.
Ask for their opinions and solutions to problems.
Encourage their efforts at problem solving. Help them take responsibility for problems and build their confidence and courage by giving them autonomy to solve them, with supervision (help).
Curate their professional career for their benefit. Where do they want to go? Help them get there.
As you expect them to sacrifice for the good of the business, expect yourself to sacrifice for the good of their family. Too many employers feel entitled to employee sacrifice without feeling a corresponding responsibility. Loyalty should begat loyalty.
When correcting someone, help them correct (manage) themselves first by asking questions instead of jumping on them punitively. Self-managing people and teams are scalable, micromanaging is not.
Show care for their professional performance by tracking key metrics and make those metrics available at any time to them so they can self-adjust to maintain performance.
Unequivocally the best companies are composed of the best teams which are managed by the best managers. It does NOT mean they have all the top performers. Teamwork is more important than individual contribution. Making employees feel understood is an excellent step towards building a culture of teamwork.
TJ's advice on the challenges and market changes relevant to SME construction companies searching for talent on the West Coast.