Leadership for Life – Just Ask

By on March 17, 2014
Leadership for Life - Just Ask

Our Leadership experts will be sharing tips and insights for everyone, at any station in life, at both home and work. Leadership for Life – the skills you embrace represent who you really are at all times.

A lot has been said about employee engagement, motivation, and productivity over the past few years. Despite the oceans of ink, reams of paper, and galaxies of electrons explaining the do’s and don’ts of getting the most out of employees, many leaders remain clueless about how to motivate and engage their employees. You can boil it all down to two words: just ask.

I’ve said before that all business is personal. When you take the time to listen and understand what’s on their minds, your employees will jump through all the hoops you lay before them. Listening and understanding is important, not only because it makes the employees feel respected and cared for, but because everyone is different, and what motivates one person might not be of any interest to another.

So if listening and understanding are key elements of motivating employees, how do you get them to tell you what’s on their minds? Back to those two words … just ask.

  • “How are things going?”
  • “How’s your family?”
  • “What can we do to improve things around here?”
  • “Can we do better?”
  • “What’s next for you in your career?”

Once you’ve asked the questions, then sit back and listen. I can’t emphasize enough the value of being a good listener, and the enormous benefits of empathy. Because everyone is different, you’ll ask different questions of different people. You can’t succeed by following a prepared script with everyone – and if you try, they see through you very quickly. Customizing your conversations will show the employees that you’re not just going through the motions prescribed by the latest management guru, but that you’re genuinely interested and intend to take them seriously.

Another really important element of communicating with employees is your use of body language. A smile, a wink, a “thumbs up” gesture – any of these carries a strong signal of camaraderie and approval. In this case, it’s the gesture that’s worth a thousand words. Along with the right body language, a sense of humor can help to cement relationships among people. When people share humorous stories and memories, they feel closer to one another and are willing to go the extra mile for each other.

Learning how to communicate effectively is a key element of business success. Practice on me – bschapiro@stlcc.edu or 314-539-5329.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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