Top managers know they should stay in touch with their employees to avoid isolation and gain valuable insight into what's happening around the company. It doesn't have to take a lot of effort.
1. Give feedback. Set up a box or e-mail address where employees can vent their concerns and get answers to their questions. The CEO or president can reply to pertinent questions that have the broadest, company-wide implications. The queries can be answered through a company-wide e-mail, newsletter or on department bulletin boards.
2. Get together. At least once a year, senior management should hold a Q&A session with staff members to answer questions and discuss issues face to face. Nothing can replace the effectiveness of personal encounters.
3. Be social. An annual picnic, luncheon, dinner, or an outing builds a bond outside the workplace that goes far toward making your staff more responsive to each other and to management.
4. Take a tour. Managers of all levels should occasionally tour all departments and facilities under their supervision. Sit in on meetings and ask questions. Employees will be inspired when they see you taking an active interest in their corner of the company.
5. Learn a job. Set aside a day to try a job within your department. Shadow an employee as he makes his daily rounds and ask questions, but don't get in the way. He has a job to do. You will gain a better understanding of what your staff does and you'll instantly gain respect if your employees see your effort as respect for them. But guard against the perception that you are checking up on employees or your efforts can backfire.
By taking a few steps to connect with your staff, you understand their daily experiences and get valuable insight into what it takes to make your company run smoothly.
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