During the last few opportunities I have had to work with teams from a diverse background of industries and levels of seniority, one topic that has come up during our discussions over and over again is “What does it mean to really work in a caring environment?”
What keeps an employee happy? Or for that matter, keep them engaged and wanting to stay? What motivates the average person? What is it that makes them loyal and feel like they belong where they work? How can a company truly take care of its employees?
It is a curious term: caring. It doesn’t stop at making good employees focussed and creating opportunities for training and development. These are essential, but they just set the basic building blocks for caring.
I believe that taking care of employees, particularly by the leaders in a business, is one of the most important tools for keeping individual employees motivated and committed to the company. On a personal level, it has the power to create a sense of belonging, trust and even to heal. It is a medicine for alleviating a toxic work environment.
As a leader, having a genuine interest in your team members, their challenges, their wins and their losses shows he/ she is caring. Asking the employee how they are feeling is caring. Ensuring they feel supported through all their wins and losses is caring. So what if someone made a mistake? If the employee tried their best and had honest intentions, are they provided with the opportunity to fail and learn from it?
Recently, I was with a team of leaders from different parts of a business having a conversation about what it means to be part of a caring team as opposed to one that doesn’t. One lady at the back of the group stepped forward and said, “Feeling part of a cared for organisation is like being with friends and family, it makes me want to come to work and do my best. I care about my team, they care about me”.
Simply declaring that you are caring isn’t enough though. Good leaders need to show their appreciation for their team tangibly. Below are five ways to demonstrate how:
Listen to what your employee has to say and seek to understand them. Nobody likes to be mindlessly dictated at. Ultimately, you – as the leader – make the final decision but don’t forget that two heads are better than one. Your caring will make your employee feel valued and give them a real sense of contribution.
Operate with integrity and set that as an example for the whole team. Whether you are giving feedback or need to own up to a failure from your part, do it with integrity – that is openly, honestly and with kindness.
If you would like your employees to share your vision for the company, they need to feel cared for. Make time daily to care of your people and they will see that your vision becomes a reality.