After nearly 33 years of marriage (to the same person!) I feel we must be doing something right. I’m sure like most married couples, we don’t declare our undying love every day of the week, but we still know we’re loved and cared for.
Just like in a successful marriage, unless your team feel loved and that you care about them they are unlikely to care much about you. Or your business or your customers.
As it’s Valentine’s Day, instead of half a dozen red roses, here are half a dozen ideas to borrow from a successful marriage to apply to a team.
Something in common
It can be tricky maintaining a relationship when you’ve got nothing in common.
In the workplace the one thing you can have in common is a shared purpose; something you really care about, which energises and excites you, something your team care about too.
When you and your team have clearly defined purpose, it connects you, provides structure and shared goals.
Know what’s important
Recognise there are things which may seem insignificant to you but can mean a lot for others. Understanding what these are others means we can attend to these things, even if they’re not important to us.
Take time to talk to your team members to build relationships and show an interest in them as individuals.
What’s important to them and how do they like to be recognised.
Clarify expectations. Discuss their career goals and aspirations, and where they fit into the vision for the business as a whole.
Get people talking about an accolade or something (or someone) they’re are proud of. Just by getting them talking about these make people feel good as well as helping to get an insight into what’s really important to them.
Be nice to one another
We all have our off days, but behaviour breeds behaviour so in any relationship it’s easy to let that rub off on others.
So, however you’re feeling, a sunny smile and a cheerful good morning sets everyone up for the day.
Treat your team with the same care, courtesy and respect as you’d like them to show you, their colleagues and customers.
Keep your commitments. Do what you say you’ll do. Making a promise that’s important to someone and then not delivering on suggests a lack of respect. If you ever do let someone down, own up and apologise. It’s one thing to make a mistake, and quite another not to admit it (like this morning when hubby said he’d forgotten it’s Valentine’s Day, but offered to take me out for dinner tonight!)
Celebrate the good times
Anyone in a relationship who’s ever forgotten a special anniversary knows how much impact that can have.
It’s just as important with your team. Recognise and celebrate team members’ successes; be they workplace achievements, personal milestones, or proud moments – in, or out of work.
When you’ve been in a relationship for a long time it’s usually easy to sense when something is wrong.
Keep your ears and eyes open so you can spot when things are wrong amongst your team. Provide support when it’s needed and be receptive to when it’s required.
Show you value their opinion; ask their advice next time you’re stumped for an answer. Consult with your team on decisions that affect them; listen to their concerns or ideas.
Ask your team for feedback on how you are doing in their eyes. Be brave; we don’t always want to hear about the things that frustrate your team, particularly if you may be contributing to the problem! Be open to the truth and willing to listen.
Show your appreciation
One of the simplest ways of showing we care is to say thank you.
Failing to give a simple please when asking for something or a thank you when it’s delivered soon gets noted, leaving people feeling unappreciated.
Remind people of the importance and significance of what they do; everyone likes to know the contribution counts and sometimes just a heartfelt thank you at the end of a busy shift or hectic day reminds them.
Be specific; a thank you and an acknowledgement of a job well done is far more sincere if you’re specific about what you’re recognising.
A physical handwritten letter or a thank you card will have 10 times more impact than a mere email.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but they’ll go a long way to show others you care about them, so they’ll care about you. And in this context – care about your business and your customers.