5 Ways to Better Understand Your Employees

Ways to better understand your employees

To lead teams more effectively, you need to know about people on your team. Knowing more about them will give you the knowledge and tools to grow a healthy and collaborative workplace culture.

As cited by Forbes Human Resource Council, “To do their jobs effectively, leaders must prioritize the people on their team. A company’s staff is its greatest asset, and managers should know as much as possible about each person and how they contribute to the overall success of the business.”

Organizations led by caring and inquisitive leaders typically build a working environment of trust, teamwork and authenticity. Unfortunately, leaders who make assumptions about what motivates employees fail to create the workplace culture they are trying to achieve.

In order for today’s managers to create successful teams, they not only need to fully understand the strengths, weaknesses and skills of their team members, they must also know about an employee’s background, interests, personal challenges, along with their family situation and life goals.

Systems of reward that focus on a person’s unique motivators has far more impact. Not everyone opens up easily, so introduce creative ways to get to know your employees better. Here are a few tips to help you create an open and honest relationship that blends personal and professional life, without overstepping the boundaries.

1. Ask “Get-to-Know-You” Questions

Consider starting every team meeting with a “get-to-know-you” icebreaker It’s a great way of getting your entire team to know, like and trust one another. Use open-ended questions such as:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • Who inspires you?
  • Who would you most like to swap places with for a day?
  • If you could be any animal, which would you be?
  • If you could visit anywhere in the world you’ve never been, where would you go?
  • What are some of your pet peeves?

Knowing the answers to these questions will not only help you motivate your employees and tap into more meaningful ways of motivation, but build empathy and understanding throughout your team.

2. Make Time For Play

Incorporate game days into your work schedule. Whether it’s an afternoon of playing cards, board or trivia games, ring toss, or a scavenger hunt; it’s a great way to help people unwind and relax. Be sure to match leaders with their team members, and decide as a team what to play. A little healthy competition can be fun and supportive of the entire team, and several good conversations (work and non-work) are sure to arise.

3. Manage Like A Mentor

Bosses that mentor are able to create stronger relationships with their employees. It is crucial that you share your knowledge and experience with your team members. This creates higher employee engagement and fosters genuine caring and concern. Do this and your employees will soon realize that you are someone who cares about their career and are there to support their strengths and weaknesses no matter what.

4. Maintain Open Door Policies and 1 on 1 Chats

Make time to talk and interact with your employees. Give your employees the freedom to approach you when they have questions or concerns. Prioritize your schedule to include monthly one-on-one talks, or try kick-starting each day with a brief 5-minute team huddle. Or go out and have lunch as a team once in a while. Just pay attention to the interactions of each employee and find a way to get to know them in a way that’s most comfortable to them.

5. Work Side by Side With Them

From time to time it’s necessary to roll up your sleeves, get in the trenches and work alongside your employees to get an important task done. Not every interaction needs to be a “career lesson”, stand back and let your employees take the lead. Be sure to observe and listen, rather than changing processes or showing them how you’d do it.

Try these simple suggestions and you’ll be sure to get to know and understand your employees better. Regardless of the methods you use, it should always boil down to building trust and mutual respect. By getting to know your employees professional and personal goals, they will feel more valued and in the long run they will become more dedicated and efficient.

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