Have you ever watched a TV show and been able to connect a character’s behavior to something specific in your life or work experience? I had that happen to me recently. If you watch the Bravo reality series, Flipping Out, you are familiar with Jeff Lewis and his reputation for being opinionated, outspoken, slightly neurotic with a quick, dry wit and a direct communication style. I actually love his personality! However, he can easily rub others the wrong way and he often has major conflict with those closest to him.
On a recent episode, Jeff admitted how valuable his design assistant Vanina is to him and how much he relies on her for the success of his business. He explained that he’d recently given her a substantial raise to let her know just how much he appreciates her. Regardless, in this episode, she broke down in tears and admitted she was ready to leave because she felt overworked and underappreciated.
As someone who provides coaching to managers for a living, I noticed some of the mistakes Jeff made with Vanina. He did not:
- Recognize the traits that make her unique and then personalize his approach with her.
- Understand what she needs from him and provide it to her.
- Consider her preferred mode of communication.
The behaviors above likely do not always come naturally to Jeff, and that’s okay – they don’t come naturally to a lot of people! But when a manager actually does all of these things with their team members on a consistent basis, that is a result of strength in the talent of Caring.
Caring is the talent that has the most direct impact on employee retention. Showing your employees that you know and care about them as individuals and are invested in their success and happiness is the key. No one will argue that monetary reward is important in recognizing excellent work, but if an employee feels that their manager does not know their unique, individual needs and therefore does not respond to those needs, they are more likely to feel taken for granted and will be willing to walk away.
So, what is the secret to ensuring that your sales staff is happy and committed to a long term career at your company? Here are some ways to show your team members that you care about them:
- Put yourself in your people’s shoes and think about what a caring manager would look like from their perspective. What behaviors and characteristics are important in a manager? Try to emulate those positive behaviors and think about things you can do to show you care. One-on-one time outside of the office? A written thank you note for a job well done? Meaningful and specific praise/feedback? Make a list of all of the ways you can demonstrate you care.
- Don’t focus on things you cannot change – focus on what you can change. You may not always be able to raise someone’s pay, but you can accentuate the things you can do for them: Recognition, educational opportunities, listening to their ideas and expressing sincere appreciation for their contributions. Take the time to find out exactly what is important to each person on your team, ask questions about how they like to be managed, and highlight a few of their answers. Commit to doing two or three things differently based on the responses you receive. Schedule time and reminders in your calendar to make it happen.
- Spend time in the trenches with your team. Seek out the people you manage and often go on their “turf” rather than expecting them to come to you. You will learn about the challenges they face as well as what is preventing them from executing to your vision. At the same time, you will reinforce to your team that you are listening and understanding what they go through in an average day to grow the business.
Taking the time to connect with, understand, and respond to the needs of your team members will have a direct effect on their happiness, performance, and commitment to you and to the company.