Continued from Part 1 . . .
Recently, we explored the brainy side of what we know about our employees. Our unconscious intuition, rather than reason, drives most of our thinking, we judge people based on their warmth and competence, and for leaders, warmth is often more overlooked but also more critical than competence. All this to say, neurological evidence shows that knowing and caring about your employees makes a difference for the bottom line. This is the scale we’re looking at:
- 83% of highly engaged employees say their supervisor cares about them as a person, while only 4% of disengaged employees would say the same.
- Managers account for as much as 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores.
- Employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged as those whose managers don’t.
- 92% of highly engaged employees say people in their departments work together as a team, while only 5% of disengaged employees agree.
- Peers account for 70% of workplace fun, while the nature of work is 22%, and perks only 8%! Pinball machines and happy hours are great and encouraged, but remember that they are means to the end of boosting camaraderie – people are the real motivator!
- The #1 motivator for employees to go the extra mile at work is camaraderie with other people. Money and benefits don’t even make the top 5 on the list!
How do I get people to trust and collaborate with me?
1. Listen. In his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie writes, “You can make more friends in two months by being interested in other people than in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Listen to what people say, and seek to understand what they need. Know what makes your employees unique. Show interest in their lives and remember details about what they tell you.
2. Ask. After listening, ask more questions. Maybe start with, “What would you like from me?” or “What can I do to improve your experience?” or “How is your life outside of work?” Be invested in your employees as people, too, beyond work responsibilities. Care for the whole person.
3. Engage. Be warm. Level with people. Try lowering the pitch and volume of your voice, as if comforting a friend. Throw in the occasional personal story. Validate feelings and worldviews. Smile and mean it. Smiling is evolutionarily contagious, because it triggers mirror neurons in others and suppresses the control we usually have on our facial muscles.
4. Communicate. In many cases, the effectiveness of a group is not determined by the IQ of the group, but by how well they communicate. Some form of daily communication is ideal – phone, email, face-to-face, or a combination of those forms.
5. Support. Make workers feel safe and comfortable talking about anything – safe to experiment, challenge, share information, fail, and help each other. Management consultant Margaret Heffernan advocates that organizations need to develop enough trust that employees can safely disagree. We need thinking partners who aren’t echo chambers, and to get this kind of candid conflict, we need high levels of trust and support. She’s found in surveys that 85% of European and American executives acknowledge they have issues or concerns at work that they are afraid to raise because of conflict. Which means these organizations are not thinking together effectively. Which means that the leaders who run these organizations, who go out of their way to find the very best people they can, mostly fail to get the very best out of them. Show your employees that you support them as people – this is the core of a culture of trust.
How you engage people, what you know about them, and what they know about you have a profound impact on your workplace. Not simply because being nice to people is what your mother taught you, but because our brains actually unconsciously pick up on things like kindness, warmth, care, and engagement, and they affect tangible outcomes like performance, retention, creativity, and collaboration. So next time you go to interact with someone at work, make sure you think twice about what kind of culture you want to create. How you treat people matters.