This Empathy Tip Made Me A Better Leader

Welcome to another People First Monday.

You’re going to crush this week. Click the hashtag because I’ve been creating these short videos since the beginning of the year, follow along, learn about the topics that I’ve been speaking about. This week I want to share an empathy trick that I use in my career to become a better leader.

That trick is when an employee comes to you with a challenge or something that they’re struggling with, before you form an opinion or say a single word, I want you to reflect for a moment and ask yourself have I also experienced that in my career or in my personal life?

Being able to have a connection to something that you also have experienced will provide you the ability to authentically experience empathy for your team members. Use this trick, it’s working fantastic for me in my career, have a fantastic week and I’ll see you next week.

What Employees Want You To Tell Them When They Hit Their Goals

Hey everyone, another People First Monday video this week. I’m sharing some things that I believe you need to communicate with your employees after they’ve achieved their goals.

The first is helping them understand how they accomplished those goals without telling them. You need to help them come to those conclusions on their own so that they can have extreme clarity so that they can do it again and again and again.

Often we only coach our employees after they’ve performed poorly. We need to allocate time to ensure that they understand why they were able to achieve those goals.

The second thing is peer to peer learning. Set up an environment for them so that they can coach their peers and share best practices that they are using to accomplish those goals.

And the third is asking them, “Do you prefer public or private praise?” When I was starting my career as a manger, I was … I had an individual named Antonia reporting in to me. And she accomplished her goals and I stook up in front of the entire company and recognized her efforts. And she didn’t like that because she prefers private praise. So that was a hard lesson for me to understand that some people don’t want public praise, they would prefer the praise to be one on one.

5 Employee Management Tips to Boost Employee Morale

Managing employees isn’t hard!

I’m not saying this to shock and awe you.

I believe managing employees isn’t as hard as we make it out to be. We simply need to adhere to some sound employee management tips and strategies to become great companies.

As leaders, we generally make it hard on ourselves to manage our employees and the outcome is a poor experience for our team members which negatively impacts their perception of you as their leader and paralyzes their morale and performance.

I’ve come a long way in my leadership ability to manage a team. I’ve recognized that my management style is different than yours and different than those of my business partners and peers.

I don’t believe I’m any better or worse than the next person, I just know, full heartedly, that my management style is right for me.

Dating back to my time at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I was groomed by people like Brian Scudamore and Patrick Louis. I took some of what Brian and Patrick taught me and found my own style.

More recently, I’ve taken advice from Danny Meyers, Howard Behar and Patty McCord. I now define my leadership style as being a benevolent and servant leader to the 150 employees we have today at my businesses in Toronto.

For the last decade, from afar, I’ve studied great leaders like Kat Cole, Jimmy Iovine and many others to share five employee management tips to boost employee morale.

I hope you enjoy this post, consider leaving a comment below and share it with your colleagues.

Understand Their Purpose (as an individual, not employee)

My book is titled, People-First Culture: Build a Lasting Business By Shifting Your Focus From Profits to People. I define People-First Culture by building a business that your employees and customers will admire.

Simple, right?

On the surface you may think, “Yes, it’s simple enough.” But, I beg to ask you, “If it’s so simple then why isn’t every company admired?”

To become “People-First” I’ve created something I call the 3P Strategy: Purpose, Process then Profit.

Within purpose, I advocate that a benevolent and servant leader must intimately understand the purpose of each team member who directly reports into them…with or without the company. Let me explain…

employee moral

Take Christina Parihar as an example. Christina is a star! She has risen the ranks of our company remarkably. She went from a server, to a shift leader and now she’s a Manager at one of our venues. But, management of our restaurant isn’t her true career purpose. It’s to become the Director, Learning & Development for our company.

This is her career purpose and as one of her leaders it’s my job to get her there. This is an example of helping someone achieve their purpose with the company.

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Meet Riley. He’s one of the top bartenders at our venues. He’s going to leave my company very soon and I’m happy about this.

I’m happy because we, as a company, are going to facilitate his exit so he can pursue his career purpose.

You see, Riley has been studying hard for years to graduate from university. He will graduate and pursue a career in biotech on the business development side of the industry.

Once Riley graduates I will personally take ownership, exhaust energy and connect him with people in my network who will interview him and hopefully hire him. This is an example of understanding a team member’s purpose and helping them reach their goals.

I once read this quote and it really resonated with me:

“Be a great company to be from.”

When I work with my management teams I share that a great employee management tip is to understand their team’s purpose and share in their success.

Clear (I mean, VERY clear) Definition and Visibility of Goals

This is where we make it hard on ourselves when it comes to managing employees and developing them during our meetings and review.

How on earth are we suppose to manage our team if goals aren’t clear and visible?

My partners use a weekly dashboard meeting to review their goals with their direct reports.

I use something called weekly GS&R’s (Goal Setting & Review).

Maybe you use something else. But, whatever, you do…use something! If you’re hiring high performers and want to manage their performance and morale, goals need to be clearly defined and visible.

Great! We have the framework in place but how are we adhering to the framework? Are we cancelling these weekly meetings? Is it a time where we passively review recent performances or do we dig deep and put everything under a microscope.

Cameron Herold once said, “Meetings don’t suck…we just suck at running meetings.” Managing your team during their reviews (which should be done regularly, not yearly) must happen often and with a clear definition of success and visibility.

Gather Employee Intelligence (EI) to Create Never-Seen-Before Experiences

I refer to employee intelligence as things you learn about your team members throughout their tenure with your company (the same can be done for customers). The most admired companies use this intelligence to create experiences for their team (and customers) that they have never seen before. These experiences build admired, People-First Culture companies.

RELATED: 3 Employee Engagement Training Strategies (video)  

Our employees have intimate conversations with us, their leaders, on a daily basis. And at times, these conversations may be falling on deaf ears, or equally as bad, are being acknowledged with unenthusiastic responses.

Let’s put this into action by way of a real-world example.

An employee tells me they have a big exam coming up. I ask for the date of the exam and record it in my phone to remind me three days before. The same day that I get the notification reminding me of the exam, I think to myself, “What would one need to help them prepare for this exam?”

One of the first things that comes to mind was one of those Sage scented vaporizers to use the evening before the exam to relax my team member before the big day.

Not all employee intelligence gestures need to be delivered with a high monetary value. For example, if your team member tells you their mother’s name or their favourite sports team, you can simply…

  • Ask how Rosa’s doing
  • Text them when their team wins a big game

One trick here is to use your phone to capture the data. Don’t leave it up to memory to remember these moments of employee intelligence.

When I host my Breakfast N’ Jam sessions I often find myself excusing myself to the bathroom so I can write things in my phone so I don’t appear rude by doing so at the table.

Find Them Another Leader to Learn From

You can’t be the only person that your employee learns from. After all, you’re not an expert in everything and neither am I. I’m constantly trying to find other professionals that my team can learn from.

These teachings can come from a book, podcast or in-person and virtual coaching. Here are a few examples of when I’ve found members of my team other people to learn from.

  • Jordan Lopez: his marketing prowess exceeded my skill set so we purchased Brian Dean’s YouTube online course for him.
  • Melissa Smilie: someone who has a tremendous future ahead of her, I recommended she read Patty McCord’s ‘Powerful: Build a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility” book as she’s going to need to learn how to develop high performing teams.
  • Max Romer: a team member who will be leaving my company to pursue a career in finance, I connected him with someone I know working within the finance department at Microsoft Canada.

Did I  already possess some of these skill sets? Yes, but, like I mentioned, your team needs to learn from people other than you to help continuously manage their morale.

Take action: This week, ask each of your direct reports one thing they want to learn within the next 90 days then go out and find an external subject matter expert for them.

Tell Them to Invest in Themselves

In 2014, I wrote a Linkedin article that received some great traction. I titled it, “Employees Need to Be Responsible For Their Own Development.”

You, as a leader at your company, can only develop so many people. Your bandwidth eventually will reach its limit. There needs to be a mutual understanding between you and your direct reports and it goes like this…

“I will give myself to you BUT you must give yourself to your own development.”

As my Linkedin post above suggests, Michael Jordan didn’t become Michael Jordan by only shooting free throws during designated practice time. He became great by putting in work on his own time.

Beyonce became Beyonce by singing, singing and singing some more at home, not just in church.

Building a high performing team is a counter balance between the leader and the team member. The leader must provide stewardship but ultimately it’s up to the employee to grow themselves.

When I was growing my career in my early 20’s I invested time to reading, watching YouTube videos and reaching out to professionals on Linkedin to ask if I could ask them a few questions. Today, in a way, I’m still an employee. We have investors that count on us to pay them a return. To do so, I must continuously invest in my education. I invest in paying 5-figures to attend retreats and workshops. I read books and listen to podcasts to level-up my game.

Take these employee management tips and apply them within your business. I’m not suggesting doing all five tactics immediately. Start with one or two, build some momentum then add another.

Leave a comment below: which employee management tip resonates with you the most and why?