December 8, 2008

“A leader needs to be in touch with the employees…” – Donald Peterson, Former Chairman, Ford Motor Company

“A leader needs to be in touch with the employees and to communicate with them on a daily basis.”
Donald Peterson, Former Chairman, Ford Motor Company

It sounds almost to crazy to say it, yet it’s true. Top managers have to be in a place where they understand how their people are doing all of the time.

It doesn’t have to be formal. It doesn’t need to be heavy. In fact it’s really good the lighter the better. It’s about your people being comfortable with you and opening themselves up (it might be little-by-little at first) as you do too.

Then you get signals on your sensitive radar.

How on earth else could anyone find out about what is going on at the sharp end of a business, other than communicating directly with them regularly?

How to do it? Well, it’s all about just getting out there, showing an interest in the people your business depends on. Listening a lot and saying much less. Valuing their contribution by hearing them and how they are feeling.

The first step is just to get out there and show an interest.

Prime your conversations, by asking questions likely to stimulate interest, then, let your people take the lead and talk to you. Your listening will be very attractive to them and they will appreciate it and say more.

By asking questions that require answers from them and avoiding the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that can come otherwise, you will truly find out what makes your people tick, one at a time.

Then work on keeping up your interactions with them – about anything – with a schedule of actions intended to maintain your visibility.

Developing long-term relationships with as many of your people as possible, is the very best investment of your time you can make.

Filed under Developing Your People, Great Quotations, Managing Me by Martin

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