I was recently talking to a good friend and mentor of mine who suggested the growth of an employee is often a good indicator of how well the leader employee relationship is going. When the growth of a team member slows down, it may be the result of a high-pressure quarter, but it may also mean the leader or team member has withdrawn from their relentless pursuit of development. This is important to note, because a team that continuously develops together, not only lasts, they also do great things together.
This insight got me thinking: what are some other questions that can help diagnose the health of professional relationships between a leader and team member? Here are seven questions that will help you begin to gauge your relationships:
This should be the easiest one to answer. A leader of mine would write a hand written note to every employee in the company on their work anniversary, just to say thank you. A simple “thank you” in a handwritten note, email, text, or in person interaction goes a long way. How far? I still remember it and am writing about it to encourage you to do the same.
Most likely you are in a leadership role because you are a lifelong learner. You were a sponge earlier in your career and now you continue to consume content that improves you as a person. Are you sending your team blogs, podcasts, videos, books, and ideas that would help them grow?
The real question is, do you ever disagree and then change your mind or behavior based on the insight from a team member? If not, that’s a problem. It means one of two things – your team members aren’t engaged enough in their job to come up with new ideas and insights OR you aren’t doing a good enough job at listening or asking for their opinion. What’s even more problematic – they are scared to voice their opinion and are just “yes” employees.
If a team member does this, they feel comfortable approaching you and they are confident that you are going to be open to it. This is a true sign of growth for both the leader and the employee.
When you say “great job” to a team member it typically is tied to results. At the end of the day, when team members achieve results they gain confidence. Find time to look for positive results, hopefully coming from out-of-the-box activity and tell them “great job.”
Not all people are necessary working in a role or in a business that follows the passions in their heart, and that’s okay. Find time to explore and encourage your people to follow their passions. Being able to have contribute to passions outside of work will ultimately make your employees happier and may even get them thinking more creatively.
The most underrated, but arguably the most important character for a great team is being able to have fun at what they do. Find the right times to bring the laughter out of your team and foster a joyful environment.
My hope is that these 7 diagnostic questions give you an idea of where your relationship stands with your team. If any of your relationships aren’t where you want them to be, nunc coepi (a Latin phrase meaning “now I begin”). Start today and relentlessly pursue your development as leader.
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John Eades is the President and CEO of LearnLoft. He is passionate about the development of people. He writes and speaks about leadership, modern learning techniques, and generational differences in organizations.
John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on Inc.com, LinkedIn Pulse, TrainingIndustry.com, eLearningIndustry.com, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College.