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Here are 7 easy, yet inspirational leadership acts that will help you connect with your people and boost morale in the workplace. Better yet, these actions will take little time away from all the other pressing matters you are faced with each day.
Easy Inspirational Leadership Act No. 1:
Have Your Tea and Lunch Along With the Team
The company's cafeteria/lunch room is the place to learn about the tempo of any organization ... it is generally far more accurate than anything you might read in a formal Mood/Culture Survey.
If you are a manager who is introverted ... or who in the past has not mixed and mingled with front line team members, on a personal or professional level ... this may, initially, be a bit difficult and uncomfortable, (for both you and them), as you don't yet have any camaraderie or rapport. Expect them to be guarded, and for the conversation to be stilted, until such time as you have built some trust.
However, if you take the time to regularly eat or have coffee where your team does (it needn't be every single day - just a few times a week), after a while people will begin to be more open and trusting toward you. In the early stages avoid any conversations that have to do with work - particularly if you have never previously established an easy, open relationship - your initial objective is to just to start building relationships and trust.
As people become used to you being around, eventually they will open up and discussions will turn towards issues that are hindering their performance... They will begin to see that you are a 'good guy' and trust you enough to begin to beef about what isn't working. When this happens, make sure you practice fully Easy Action 6.
You must resist, with all your might, the temptation to justify, explain, make excuses for any inadequacies that (from their perspective) have been caused by 'management'. Your prime aim with Easy Leadership Act 1 is to get a feel for the mood of the organization, and ideas for how you can continuously improve morale - not to spread the management 'line', or shut down conversations that are difficult.
This can be a tricky path to weave, you need to be loyal to your leadership team and systems, AND make it easy for people to share with you ideas and thoughts that might help improve the way things get done ... so choose your words wisely as you engage in the conversation.
What you want to do, is to just acknowledge (you don't have to agree or disagree, just acknowledge) their concerns and steer the conversation toward ideas they have for fixing the 'problem'. Let them know that you are interested, and keen to get their perspective. However, don't make any promises that you can't keep. (This might be a good time to practice the Moment of Choice)
If you cannot use any of their suggestions, you may say something along the lines of, "While I can't promise that I'll be able to act immediately on your suggestions, I've now got it in my mind and it will certainly help me to make better decisions in the future."
Asking the people, who work in the front-line, what they'd do differently and then acting on as many of the solutions as you can, will truly sky rocket your team's performance. As time goes by, and you work with these people to implement their ideas, (and not making promises you can't keep or constantly defending your position) trust will grow ... as trust grows so does their level of optimism and that leads to performance improvement. It's a true cycle of success.
This is one of those inspirational leadership activities that is often overlooked, but so easy to implement. Be a leader whom front line team members feel free to confide in by spending time regularly with them in 'their world' - whether it is the lunchroom or their work area.
Easy Inspirational Leadership Act No. 2:
Issue a Business Card to Everyone in Your Team
An incredibly inexpensive and astoundingly powerful practice is to provide each team member with a Business Card. Receiving their very own personal business card (with their name on it - not just a generic card) can be particularly meaningful for team members who have never been in a job 'senior' enough (i.e enough status) to justify/qualify for their own business card.
Whilst I was working with Colgate-Palmolive, we saw to it that all the team members in the factory were issued personalized business cards. It is really difficult to express the sense of pride many team members felt when they received their first set of business cards. They would give out their cards wherever needed with customers and suppliers and they would also distribute them within their personal circles.
I recall one of our team members, doing his weekly shopping in a supermarket, giving his business card to a customer. This customer was comparing various detergent powder brands and looked to be about to purchase a competitor's product. The team member gave out his card and urged the customer ...
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