The Power of Personal Connection

I have a pet peeve.

I can’t stand seeing managers who stay isolated. It bothers me when I hear about bosses who stay locked up in their office or spent their days in meetings.

They never get out to see their employees. They are disconnected!

Look – I know what it’s like to be busy.

As the co-founder and CEO of a start-up manufacturing business, I’m swamped. I’m the head of sales, HR manager, CFO, and Operations Manager.

I wear many hats and work long hours. I’m as busy as the next guy,

But I also know the importance of getting out of my office. I know the importance of connecting with my team.

I also do something very specific each day to make sure our entire company stays connected and everyone is on the same page. It only takes 15 minutes a day and you can do it too.

It’s a morning stand-up meeting.

Now, before you tune me out and tell me how much a waste of time meetings are, let me tell you that I hate meetings as well. In fact, what I’ve found is that our daily stand-up meeting actually prevents us from needing other meetings throughout the day.

But, if you’re still skeptical, hold on. Because I think you will become a believer once I’ve made my case.

So what is a stand-up meeting?

For us, we all meet on the factory floor at 8:30 AM in front of a giant whiteboard. Written on the whiteboard are all of the current orders.

The meeting starts with a briefing from the production manager on what jobs we are going to build that day. We discuss what major shipments will arrive and depart the factory. Then we go around the room and everyone has the chance to add anything that is important to the whole team – Part shortages, quality updates, customer questions, product changes, field issues, and people issues – who’s absent, who’s traveling, who’s leaving early, who has vacation later in the week.

We allow enough time for questions, clarification, and to resolve any conflicting priorities.

I give a quick update on what’s coming up in the future – big orders anticipated, visitors coming in, status on landing new customers, my travel schedule. And I wrap up the meeting by telling everyone to be safe.

That’s it. The whole meeting takes about 15 minutes.

And yes, we stand the whole time.

So, you might be thinking – How does this meeting help with human connection? How does a 15-minute meeting each day make us a more connected team?

Well. I’ll tell you. There are 5 things:

1. There is a personal connection. Like a family gathering around the breakfast table, we learn how everyone is doing. These meetings help us to continue to build relationships with each other.

2. We get everyone on the same page. At the end of the meeting, we all know what needs to be done and our role in it. We’ve resolved any conflicts and we understand the priorities. We have focus and clarity. We have a plan for the day.

We get everyone on the same page. Click To Tweet

3. We have a better view of the future. We know who is taking a vacation, who’s sick. We know when customers are visiting. We know when to expect the next big order. We can better set out daily priorities knowing what’s more likely to happen in the coming weeks

4. We reinforce our mission and values. For me, every discussion helps me reinforce our mission daily as we discuss various topics.

5. These stand-up meetings set the tone, the pace, and the routine in our business. I look forward to each meeting because I know I will come away with all the answers I need for the day. I also know everyone will be there, so I know I don’t have to have any other meetings throughout the day.

These meetings regularly set the cadence for our business.

There is a personal connection every morning, we get on the same page, and we reinforce our mission.

I like this quote from Hilton Barbour. He says, “Small rituals make a culture”

“Small rituals make a culture” Hilton Barbour Click To Tweet

And that’s what our morning stand-up meetings are for us. They are small rituals that help us set and maintain our culture.

So what about you? Do you have a regular way to connect with employees and ensure everyone is on the same page?

Do you have a daily method to reinforce your mission and values?

If not, you may want to try a daily stand-up meeting.

If you hate meetings as much as I do, you’ll love this 15 minute morning ritual.

 

P.S.

If you like this idea, get a copy of my latest book – “I Have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following”  It is filled with 23 practical ideas like this on how you can become a more effective leader.

And, If you want to get more out of your daily commute, listen to my podcast, Deep Leadership.  It’s available on all podcast apps.

I Have the Watch is also available on Audible for your commuting pleasure.

What Does it Mean to Have your Employee’s Back?

Let me share a short story about a boss who had my back.

I had spent thousands of dollars of the company’s money.

It was my first trip to the high-power test lab and I was nervous. I was the lead mechanical engineer on a major project to design a breakthrough electrical product. I was confident in our design but still a little worried. An electrical shock of 15,000 volts is violent and, despite my calculations, I knew anything could go wrong.

I spent the morning getting everything ready for the first test.

By noon, it was go-time. There was no backing down.

Less than one second after the voltage was applied, my worst fears were realized. The product exploded violently. Parts flew off in every direction. It wasn’t just a failure – it was an absolute disaster.

I had failed spectacularly.

I knew I had to call my boss and I knew it wouldn’t be good. I would probably lose my job for this. I was discouraged. My days in design engineering were probably over.

I called my boss and explained what had happened. Expecting the worst, I was shocked at his response.

He said to me, “Do you know why it failed?” My answer was yes. He then asked, “Do you know how to fix it?” Again, my answer was also yes. Without any emotion, he said, “Well, get back here and get the redesign done so you can return to the lab.”

Right then I knew – my boss had my back.

Instead of chastising me, he encouraged me.

Instead of losing my job, he had given me a new mission.

My respect for him skyrocketed.

My respect for him skyrocketed. Click To Tweet

I knew I had a good boss and I wanted to make him proud. And I did. I returned to the lab a short month later and passed every test.

We were the first to the market with this new technology and our business was extremely successful because of it.

This happened to me more than 20 years ago and I can still remember exactly how I felt that day. I felt empowered knowing I had a boss who would stand behind me even if I made a mistake.

Unfortunately, many bosses don’t understand the power of supporting their employees.

Many bosses don’t understand the power of supporting their employees. Click To Tweet

Too many bosses won’t back up their team members when bad things happen. As soon as anything casts a shadow on these bosses, they abandon their people. They don’t want to get in trouble themselves. They are looking out for their own careers. They walk away and let the employee take the fall.

This is the worst type of boss.

When something goes wrong, they immediately leave employees hanging – or worse, they throw them under the bus.

These bosses want all the glory but they don’t want to take any blame for failures.

These bosses want all the glory but they don’t want to take any blame for failures. Click To Tweet

What’s worse is that everyone in the organization knows this and it deeply affects the culture. When employees know they have a boss that won’t back them up if anything bad happens, they stop taking chances. They stop trying new things. They stop pushing the envelope of what’s possible.

They’re afraid to fail and fear grinds the organization to a halt. The organization becomes stagnant and good people start looking for other opportunities.

I like this quote from Hendry Stuart Mackenzie Burns:

“A good manager is [someone] who isn’t worried about [their] own career but rather the careers of those who work for [them].” 

So how about you?

Do you have your employee’s back? Or are you in it just for yourself?

The difference will determine your effectiveness as a leader.

If you like this story, get a copy of my latest book – “I Have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following”  It is filled with 23 short stories like this on how you can become a more effective leader.

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By the way, If you want to get more out of your daily commute, listen to my podcast, Deep Leadership.  It’s available on all podcast apps.

And my best-selling leadership book, I Have the Watch, is also available on Audible for your commuting pleasure.

Why Good Employees Go Bad

Let’s talk about employee engagement.

According to Gallup, only 34% of U.S. workers are engaged and enthusiastic about their jobs and companies. And, it’s a number that hasn’t changed much in the past 18 years.

So, what’s engagement and why should we care?

Well, engaged employees are better employees. These are the people who care the most and routinely go above-and-beyond for their organizations.

They are your BEST employees!

Marcus Buckingham, author of First, Break All the Rules, defines engaged employees as having “a positive state of mind characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption”

He goes further to explain…

Vigor is the willingness to invest in work with high levels of conscientiousness, persistence, energy, and mental toughness.

Dedication just means being connected to work, experiencing a sense of significance, pride, enthusiasm, and challenge.

Absorption describes how deeply involved in their work these employees are. For them, time passes quickly and disconnecting from work is difficult.

OK. That makes sense.

So, it’s in our best interest as leaders to create and maintain a high level of engagement in our organizations. We will be more successful when we are surrounded by engaged and dedicated employees.

We will be more successful when we are surrounded by engaged and dedicated employees. Click To Tweet

Got it.

So, what are we doing wrong? Why are 60-70% of employees disengaged and disinterested?

And…why does this affect even our BEST employees?

Let’s review some of the causes:

  1. Good employees become disengaged when managers don’t listen to their ideas and concerns. This is especially true for new employees!
  2. Good employees become disillusioned when managers allow circumstances to compromise the mission. When the actions of management don’t support the mission, good employees get frustrated.
  3. Good employees become disenfranchised when managers are disengaged and disconnected. Disengaged managers create disengaged employees.
  4. Good employees lose trust in their organization when their manager’s actions don’t match their words. A recent ADP study shows that employees who trust their manager are 12X more engaged!
  5. Good employees get frustrated when bad employees are not held accountable. Whether you like it or not, this is true.

I like this quote from Hilton Barbour: “Your culture is defined by the worst behavior tolerated by leadership.”

“Your culture is defined by the worst behavior tolerated by leadership.” Hilton Barbour Click To Tweet

The final thing I would add on this topic is something from my good friend, John Brubaker, over at CoachBru.com. Speaking to great employees, he said…

Go where you’re celebrated not where you’re tolerated.”

As leaders, I would say, if you don’t want your best employees to become disengaged, frustrated, and disconnected, you need to celebrate them!

And if you don’t what that means…

Go get a copy of my latest book – “I Have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following”  Chapter 10 is all about Celebrating Employees!

That’s it for today

Think about this topic this week. What are you doing as a leader to keep your BEST employees engaged?

If can keep them engaged and happy, you will be a more effective leader.

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By the way, If you want to get more out of your daily commute, listen to my podcastDeep Leadership.  It’s available on all podcast apps.

And my best-selling leadership book, I Have the Watch, is also available on Audible for your commuting pleasure.