Great managers do not assume anything.
They pay attention to the company culture details. They spend time daily observing how people treat each other while working, while meeting and while problem-solving. Making a common postal area, beverage center ,or outside smoking area, and possibly a play area, allows for these quiet observations. They check in with players at all levels regularly to gain a broad perspective of how relationships and beliefs are being developed.
Many companies are using employee surveys and other methods to gauge the “temperature” of the company. But how many of them actually take the “temperature” of the individual employees on their teams? Important is how many actually report back what they find or suggest how to remedy any deficiency.
I was privileged to work with an excellent mentor years ago. He was an engaging leader in so many senses of the term. One of his strengths, a practice that I still use to this very day, is what he called a “One-to-One” or, more loosely, a “Temperature Check”. I have used the latter term more commonly over the years, partially as it plays on the daily functions in the hospitality industry where I worked for many years, but also as a true indicator of how hot or cold a particular person is in the organization.
The purpose of these checks is to drive down to the core feelings of the team, both individuals, and as a whole. It is a great opportunity to not only find out more of what was happening in the company, but to also build relationships and stronger working bonds that ultimately brings the team closer. To make the most of these checks, we discovered a few guidelines to make them most effective:
1. Make “Temperature Checks” informal and light. These are meant to be open communications. Have them in the cafeteria and not your office.
2. Let employees know your commitment is to make them, the team, and yourself better, so work can be both enjoyable and productive.
3. Qualify the 3 F’s – Feelings, Facts, and Fault. You’ll be confronted with all of these in most every temperature conversation. This type of discussion is a breath of fresh air, and will go a long way in bridging any trust gaps between the team members. Find out what folks think will help solve problems. Tell them to use the company suggestion box with their ideas. Then follow through. By keeping them up to date, they see you are taking their concerns seriously, and respecting their input.
4. In the conversation, make sure that the person knows their value to the company, and that you recognize it as well. Lead them to be inspired to better action, attitude, and trust, by letting them know you appreciate them and that it’s a pleasure and a privilege to work alongside them.
Remember that temperature checks can be great, informal ways to have a dialogue with your people and get their views on your culture and what’s working, or not. By following the above steps you can transform your culture, deepen employee engagement, and build stronger levels of trust by simply valuing your people’s feelings, thoughts, and skills.