Making your employees feel they matter is a powerful tool in the corporate world, according to Augusto Giacoman, writing for Strategy+Business.
When a leader demonstrates concern for the wellbeing of his or her teams it generates a climate of safety and trust that positively impacts on their work.
Fostering a caring attitude can actively encourage an engaged and satisfied team as well as better productivity. But what if it doesn’t come naturally?
If you don’t want to simply pay lip-service, there are techniques you can consciously practise to bring out your inner carer. Here are three to begin with:
1) Take time to recognise the benefits caring can bring and remember that members of your team want a low-stress life as much as you do.
2) Tap into the fears and frustrations of your employees by revisiting your own. What triggers your own anxieties? What is it like when a job goes wrong and you take the blame? How does it feel to have a difficult boss who doesn’t care?
3) Look back at the help and support given by family, friends, colleagues and caring mentors that made it possible for you to become a leader. Now ponder on the assistance you still need to carry on being successful – particularly from your staff. You can’t be a leader without them, so it is in your interests to take care of them.
If you need more inspiration, Giacoman gives these key examples of how caring produces results, one gleaned from the business world and one from the military:
1) As CEO of Alcoa, Paul O’Neill (later treasury secretary in the George W Bush administration) became a crusader for the safety of his employees, despite opposition from directors. As a consequence of his dogged quest, workplace accidents reduced, productivity grew and income rose.
2) Giacoman cites a tale from his time in the US Army and the sergeant major with his infantry unit – a combat veteran who put his soldiers’ through tough training but placed their welfare above his own. Hosting a development session, the SM played a video of a classic children’s story to demonstrate the high level of caring a leader should offer.
“The Giving Tree describes an enduring relationship of unconditional and self-sacrificing love between a tree and a little boy,” writes Giacoman. “In the silence after the video ended, he uttered a simple command before dismissing us: ‘Be the Giving Tree for your soldiers.’ I watched his philosophy of caring yield incredible results in the unit, both in garrison and in combat in places like Mosul and Sadr City.”
Of course, there is a danger that you could care too much. And, according to a study by Middle Tennessee State University professor Mark C Frame, employees are less impressed by your caring attitude the higher up the corporate ladder you climb.
Nevertheless, demonstrating genuine concern for your employees, while maintaining a clear level of confidence and assertiveness as a leader, has been shown to reap ample rewards for all.