I’ve got this novel approach for how to engage your people … try being more personable. Yes, that is it. Try it today. It won’t cost you anything but a little time. But it is time well spent. When you walk into work, try actually talking to your people. If it’s been a while since you’ve done it, here’s how it might look:
“Good Morning! How are you today?”
Simple. Easy breezy. But, here’s the hard part; do it while you are looking at them eye to eye. And then wait for a response. Literally, wait the three seconds it takes to get a response. And while you’re waiting, try and listen to what they say. You can build tomorrows conversation off of what you heard today. If your team is virtual, then start your conversation on the phone with, “Hello! How you today?” (did you expect something else?) and don’t rush to fill in the silence. I do it all the time when I call people on the phone, especially customer service reps. Try it, it’s amazing to hear how many people never even answer the question. Hold your breath after you ask it and wait.
Most of the time people feel its just a courtesy that’s better to rush through and be done with, but it is certainly not. It is about being real and drawing a connection with another person. As leaders, we set the tone for our people. If our people see us as too busy to engage or too frantic to take a moment with them, why should they be inspired by us? If you want to build a culture that your people can thrive in, it has to start with mastering the basics.
As your culture matures, we can talk more about things like autonomy and purpose. But until then, keep it simple by starting with the easy stuff. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes. If you want to be the leader that positively impacts your people, engage them. Be nice, be human and be real. You may be surprised at how easy it is to help someone move from being stuck in the middle between being present and being engaged.