How to get the most out of your team.

5 Ways to improve work culture, build trust, and get your staff to perform at their highest level.

People always ask me, “how do you get your team excited about doing their job?” It is true that not every person shares the same motivation, and some may simply want to show up and get the paycheck for the hours they put in. However, as leaders, it is not our job to differentiate who falls into which category. It is our job to empower, educate, support, and listen to everyone. As leaders it is our job to figure out what motivates each and every one of our team members, then do the work to keep them motivated. Below are some of the tools I have used over the years to bring out the best in my team members.

1. Listen

That’s right. Just simply listen to your team when they take the time to share. I make sure I have 1:1 meetings with my direct reports monthly. If you have more than 30 direct reports, you can spread that out to every other month, but consistency is key. I always start with the statement, “what can I do to make your experience at work more enjoyable.” Most people don’t know how to answer that question, but it starts the conversation. Actively listen to the team member, take some notes, but for the most part, listening is all you need to do.

2. Follow-up and Follow Through

Once you’ve met with your team member, you can keep notes on the conversation, and follow up at the next meeting on the progress you have made regarding their suggestions. A lot of people are pleasantly surprised when I am able to circle back to the previous conversation and truly follow up on the concerns they had. Nobody wants to deal with a, “bobble-head” leader. I consider the bobble-head leader, the leader who constantly shakes their head yes, but the lights aren’t on. There is no follow up just a generic smile, and thank you for bringing up these concerns. It does not feel genuine. Raw, somewhat unfiltered leadership has always been my approach. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but I have seen it make an incredible impact.

3. Share your failures along with your personal wins

Everybody messes up, it’s is human nature. I’ve always hated being with leaders who pretended they were flawless. Once again, it’s not genuine. I hold monthly meetings and make sure there is an open floor for the staff to share their mistakes so we can talk about them, openly, without judgement or consequence. I had a trophy in the middle of the room, and a stuffed banana. When someone wanted to share a win they had for the week, they would grab the trophy and share, and vice versa with the banana. It is so important to share your losses with your team, so they can see it is perfectly ok, to mess up. This will open the lines of communication, and ultimately save you trouble down the road.

4. Acknowledgement and Praise

Acknowledging people is not an inherited skill, it is learned. For most people, acknowledging good and bad can be a difficult task, so it takes practice. It is important to do this in real time, and be specific. An example of acknowledgement and feedback is below:

“Ashlyn, I am inspired by your bedside manner with the patients. The way you interact, support, and are readily available for patients, really improves their experience while they are hospitalized. We are so lucky to have you on this team. Thank you for all you do.”

In the example I am specific about Ashlyn’s behavior. I shared my feelings about why this behavior was important, then I shared the impact of the behavior. Something as simple as acknowledging your team members can make a huge difference.

5. Consistency

Just like everything else in life, consistency is key. Make sure if you are meeting with the team member monthly, you do not miss your monthly meeting. If it has to be rescheduled, do so in a timely manner, and do not make a habit of canceling. These meetings are essential. When people feel good about themselves, they produce better work. When people produce great work and it is acknowledged, people feel good about themselves. This is the cycle you want to continue to see.

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