No two employees are exactly alike. Their personalities, skills, experiences, and backgrounds shape them into completely unique people who are motivated, challenged, and inspired in different ways.
So why treat them all the same way?
The answer to that question seems painfully obvious: you shouldn’t. Yet many managers use a one-size-fits-all approach to employee engagement, a strategy that puts a hard ceiling on their employees’ potential. To maximize your employees, and in turn productivity and profits, managers must take an individual approach to the way they interact with employees.
There’s no better way to get to know someone than by devoting time to them. Carving out some time from your busy schedule shows employees you care about their well-being and development.
But the real benefit of these conversations is that you get to really know each employee on an individual level in ways you simply can’t in a team meeting. These private conversations allow you to get a better sense of an employee’s personality, strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations. When you really understand and embrace who employees are, you can maximize their potential.
Advice from an employee:
“Take the time to get to know them a bit as people. Talk to them explicitly about goals and motivations. Observe what people do, how they do it, what they do well or poorly.”
When you show an interest in employees’ lives outside the workplace, they get a sense that you care for them and don’t simply view them as another cog in the machine. Ask them about their families, hobbies, favorite sports teams and musical artists, and backgrounds. Share these aspects about yourself as well – it will help the employee feel comfortable and allow them to open up.
Depending on the size of your team, it might be difficult to remember all the individual characteristics of each employee. Don’t let your memory impact employee engagement. After interactions (especially one-on-ones), jot down notes in employees’ files to remind yourself in the future.
You’re automatically going to gravitate toward certain employees more than others, just as you do when forming friends. It may be tempting to prioritize those you get along with best, it’s important that you keep everyone on a relatively even playing field. Dedicating more time with certain employees shows favoritism, which could result in resentment and ultimately disengagement in other employees.
Advice from an employee:
"Listen to everyone and spend time with everyone equally."
Just as employees have unique identities, they are motivated in different ways. Some prefer specific, metric-based goals that can be tracked every day. Others prefer long-term, wide-ranging initiatives that are monitored periodically. As you get to better know your employees, you can set goals that match their specific style and align the team and organization from top to bottom.
It’s very important that managers constantly search for new ways to get to know their employees better. For more ideas on how to capture the individual approach that employees crave, download our ebook, How to Be a Better Manager and Connect with Your Employees.