7 Proven Ways to Genuinely Connect with Your Employees

Really connecting with employees creates strong yet flexible partnerships, improving employee loyalty, engagement and your business’s bottom line.

What kind of difference would it make to your company to get every one of your employees excited about solving problems, making recommendations, expressing their new ideas, and enjoying taking care of your customers?

Every company today needs employees who are enthusiastic and who bring the very best of themselves to work. Companies need this not just from top performers, but from everyemployee, every day, in order to be competitive and thrive, let alone survive. The single element that distinguishes one company from another more than anything else is its people and the effort they exert.

The secret to unlocking this unlimited source of energy for your company is to build and strengthen the bonds between you and your employees. When you trust and respect your people–and really connect with them–they will respond with commitment and enthusiasm.

Give these seven strategies for connecting with your employees a try and see for yourself how your organization will benefit.

1. Put people first.

All employees–no matter what their positions are, or how well they perform their jobs–want to be respected and valued for their contributions to their organizations. Respect comes in many different forms: respecting opinions, respecting time, respecting culture, and more. And respect is a two-way street. Employees also need to respect their employers and their own careers instead of viewing their jobs and salaries only as entitlements.

2. Create a safe haven.

In many organizations, bosses rule their employees through bullying, threats and intimidation. Unfortunately, over the long term, fear causes employees to contribute less to their organizations and to disconnect–both mentally (checking out, clamming up) and physically (absenteeism, resignation). Employees must feel safe when they take the initiative to try something new–whether or not the idea works. It’s your job to provide your people with a safe haven to bring forward their ideas, and to tell the truth–no matter how hard the truth may be for you to hear.

3. Break down barriers to information.

Information is power, and bosses have traditionally wielded this power through the selective granting and withholding of information to and from employees. Organizations today can no longer afford the practice of selective communication. Employees must be informed–through constant, complete, and unfettered communication by their coworkers, their managers, and their customers–about what’s going on in the organization, and their place within it. Only when they have complete information can they–and will they–give all that they have to their organizations.

4. Create golden opportunities for personal growth.

Owners have an inherent interest in ensuring that their organizations get the biggest bang for their buck, that is, that revenues are maximized, expenses are minimized, and that customers are consistently delighted with the products and services that they receive. And, although the granting of stock and other financial incentives is one way to develop a sense of ownership in employees, there are many other non-financial ways that leaders can develop an “owner’s” mentality in the workplace, including giving employees real responsibility and authority to make decisions that affect their jobs and their work.

5. Undo the organization.

In the past, rigid, bureaucratic, and rule-bound organizations were the model of consistency, dependable results, and steady if not stellar profits. However, this old model of business is now officially extinct, and a new model of business–a lean model built on speed, flexibility, and the active involvement of front-line employees–has taken hold. By giving your employees the responsibility and the authority to do their jobs, you and your organizations can be successful by not depending on policies and procedures to force employees to do the right thing, but instead by depending on employees to do the right thing on their own.

6. Engage your people.

While many organizations have spent a lot of time over the past few years developing and installing elaborate employee suggestion systems, few have made them a permanent part of the way that they do business. Even fewer actually implement the good suggestions they receive. This is a mistake. Employees are a tremendous potential source of organizational improvement, and you should make it a point to regularly tap this wealth of ideas.

7. Make recognition a way of life.

Despite years of research proving the overwhelmingly positive effect of employee recognition on the bottom line, few bosses take the time to recognize and reward their employees for a job well done–and even fewer employees report that they receive either recognition or rewards at work. The amazing thing about this fact is that the most effective forms of employee recognition cost little or no money, including verbal and written thank-you’s for employees who do a good job, and publicly celebrating team and group successes.

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