Do you care about me? This is what most people want to know when they work for you. They may not say it directly, but it is the core question that defines the relationship between you and the people you lead. When people believe the answer is “yes,” they will be more committed to their work, and to you. But when they think the answer is “no,” their commitment to their job and their loyalty to you will suffer.
As a practical matter, it’s a good idea to care about your people. When they know you care about them, they will care about you and your success.
To be a leader means getting results. But when the drive for results monopolizes a leader’s attention, people become the lesser priority. When a leader cares more about the “ends” (results) and less about the “means” (people), he becomes susceptible to treating people like objects. You’ll hear it in his language—he’ll refer to people as “resources,” as if they were interchangeable parts sitting on a machinery shelf. He’ll stress the importance of resource planning to manage the budget and schedule. He’ll plead with the bosses for more resources to enlarge the capacity of his department. The leader is the machinist and his resources are his machine parts.
Caring Begets Caring
As a practical matter, it’s a good idea to care about your people. When they know you care about them, they will care about you and your success. In fact, you’ll know that you’re truly a leader who cares when the people you lead start seeking and valuing your input, when they take an interest in your career aspirations, and when they are actively supportive of you. And when your people care about you, they’ll help you get better results.
Showing That You Care
Showing how you much you care doesn’t come easily for some leaders, especially the more introverted and analytical types. Keep it simple and let your actions speak louder than words. Don’t just tell people you care about them, show them by opening yourself up to the people in your office. Here’s how:
- Get out of your office. Don’t cloister. Walk the halls and dedicate a few hours each day to not looking at a screen of any sort.
- Smile more. People won’t approach you if you’re a perpetual grump.
- Set up a LinkedIn profile so people can view your educational background and career.
- Display a few pictures of your life outside of work.
- If your company sponsors a softball league, or folks get together for a trivia night, join in the fun.
- Take time to attend the holiday office party and approach people by using their first name.
Doing these things may feel uncomfortable at first and that’s ok. The outcome will benefit you and those you lead. The extra care you display will go far in earning the trust you need and want from everyone in the office, not just this holiday season, but all year round.