If you’re a leader in a smaller organization, chances are you know most of your employees, or at least a good number of them. If you’re a senior leader in a larger organization, you probably know most of your peers, but what about the employees who work for the company? So, you may be asking yourself, does it matter?
Absolutely it matters! Your employees have a wealth of knowledge. They are likely the front line to the customer. They have ideas about how to save money for your organization. They would love the opportunity to speak to leadership.
I have known several senior leaders (including CEOs) who have taken the time to meet with employees to get to know them and mine their thoughts and views on the company. This is often done as a small group (one-on-one meetings are usually a little intimidating for employees), and over coffee, lunch or breakfast.
These types of meetings are a win for both the executive and the employee. The employee has the opportunity for face-time with a leader in the organization, and someone who they likely don’t interact with on a regular basis. For the executive, they can learn a lot if they are asking the right questions, are willing to listen, and provide an open environment for two-way communication.
Some leaders are so passionate about hearing from their employees that they schedule these meetings at least monthly, and they continue year over year. They become part of the culture of the organization.
Here are some ideas to get started:
• Think about meetings over coffee, breakfast, lunch, or an afternoon fireside chat.
• You may want to solicit a few questions in advance so you have something to start the conversation.
• Keep the discussions as informal as possible…you want employees to feel relaxed and see you as approachable.
• Let this be a two-way exchange of information. Many leaders like to talk…it is important to listen.
Connecting with your employees is a sign that you care. Communication is often one of the key issues coming out of engagement surveys. By taking the time to meet with employees and ask about their views, you can increase engagement in the company.
Have fun with this. This is your chance to understand your company from the view of your employees. Show your human side and help to put everyone at ease.