I’ll be extremely honest. I have employees who have truly loved me as a co-worker, supervisor and peer. I’ve also had employees who flat-out hated and despised me. Want to be a leader? Both of these scenarios come with the territory.
I never set out for either one of these extremes. I always hoped that, as a leader, those employees I supervised would respect me and feel like I supported them to be successful in their positions. The rest just happens based on how you connect with employees on a personal level.
There are some things that, as a leader, you can do to get more employees loving you than hating you:
During big life issues, show extreme compassion and empathy.
HR has policies around life issues like bereavement and childbirth. They’re all written to not allow employees to take advantage. The best leaders break these policies for their people. Major life issues rarely happen, and employees judge you based on how you react to these.
Make it personal.
Truly get to know the family and happenings of your employees’ lives. Go beyond small talk. This takes time, and this takes asking multiple times. Be willing to share your personal life as well.
Check out these 14 smart ways to invest in your talent (on a budget), straight from our talent advisors themselves.
Surprise individual employees in great ways.
I once had a single mom who worked for me. Her son was playing basketball, and she couldn’t afford to buy him the expensive shoes all the other kids were getting. This is crushing to a single mother, so I bought the shoes. I still hear from her 10 years later.
Be willing to do the job below the people you supervise.
I change light bulbs at my company. I take out the garbage. I pick up paper in the restroom. I do this so the people who report to me won’t have to. So they can focus on their jobs. A leader who serves and helps others is always welcome to meetings.
Make employees’ skills so valuable that others will want them.
This is very hard for most organizations and leaders to accept. “If I make them that valuable, they’ll leave.” Yes, they might. But most will not, because other organizations and leaders aren’t doing what you’re willing to do.
Ask for help.
Your employees are smart. They have great ideas. You don’t have to move mountains by yourself. The leaders who are loved are usually the same leaders who ask their teams for the most help. It’s easier than you think to say, “I don’t know how to solve this problem. I don’t have the answer. Do you?”
Do you see anything above that seems really hard to do? Anything you can’t actually start doing tomorrow?
Being a beloved leader doesn’t take intelligence, power or experience. It doesn’t take grand or superficial gestures. It takes a person who is willing to be human. So be a little vulnerable and check your ego at the door. Baking a cake and bringing it to work is just icing.
Throughout the month of February, the Talent Advisor Portal is featuring HR leaders who will help you learn why and how and why to invest in talent in 2015 — even on a shoestring budget. Join CareerBuilder and talent advisor Steve Browne for a can’t-miss webinar, “Wake Up! It’s 2015 — Time to Make Employee Investment a Reality,” on Thurs., Feb. 19 at 2:00 Central time. Register now.