We’ve all been there. The setting? Your doctor’s office. The purpose? Your annual physical. Your excitement? You would rather be ANYWHERE else.
During that one hour exam, we are poked and prodded as the physician captures the information that tells him or her how your health measures up. Our heart rate, blood pressure, and other physical tests become a measuring stick to our future.
And although it isn’t the appointment we necessarily look forward to, it is essential to our health. During those checkpoints of vital signs and other important measurements, we are assured that all is well or alerted to issues worthy of a deeper look.
Hmmm….isn’t that also our concern in our workplace? How healthy is your team and when is the last time you gave it a check up?
Now, we may be quick to respond that our monthly financials really communicate the viability of our company or even that employee evaluations provide performance feedback to individuals.
And while these are metrics of the business, it is important to remember that those metrics are created daily by individual members of our team. The check up we speak of here is at that personal level so that, when healthy, those monthly and annual goals can become even more successful.
So, how do you take the pulse of your team?
It requires multiple avenues of feedback from your team every 3-4 months. These various touch points allow you to identify issues and drill to a deeper level with solutions. A practical three-avenue approach includes the following:
Avenue #1: Begin with an anonymous survey that asks the following questions:
- Do you understand where the company is going and what you need to do every morning?
- Do you see how you fit in?
- Do you receive effective and timely feedback on your performance?
- What is the most irritating thing our company does to its customers?
- Why do you work here?
The answers to these questions will reveal these invaluable aspects of your success (or lack thereof):
- Where the company is going? Vision and strategic future of my team, department or company
- How I fit in? I understand the importance of what I do – it has value and therefore I do too
- Receive feedback? Are leaders interacting with the team as they should be.
- Customer irritants? Your team knows the customer much more intimately than leadership will. We need to listen to them because they listen to your customers.
- Why work here? You will discover the intangibles of your workplace that engage the team. Those are strengths to build from.
Avenue #2: Take it a step further
What you learn from those five questions will give you the information to drill deeper for answers that positively impact the team. Consider focus groups with a cross section of the team. Share what you have learned from the surveys and ask their involvement to improve a specific issue. Some quick tips:
- Provide breakfast or lunch for the focus group. Refreshments always lighten the mood and encourage interaction.
- Thank participants in advance for what they do. Do your homework and personalize those thank you’s.
- Share something new or exciting happening in the business. Help them feel like real “insiders” to the business.
- Capture the ideas shared in the focus group. That means you need a scribe who listens “between the lines” for the messages behind the messages.
- Look for easy wins. Be open minded to the suggestions that mean a great deal to your team. If there isn’t a viable reason to say no, why not say yes? You can even try suggestions on a pilot approach as well. Your yes tells your team you are listening.
- Promise and deliver action. For those suggestions you consider, be honest with the group on how/when next steps can be expected. Then communicate to the group and larger organization the outcomes.
Avenue #3: Personal follow up
Surveys and small group interaction are two reliable feedback loops. This final avenue is where the relationship will occur. Personal leadership requires interaction and the more we interact, the greater engagement (healthiness) occurs. Where possible, reach out to the individual members of your team and initiate conversation. Talk about the issues that are important to them and keep them posted on the team’s progress.
Now, back to that doctor’s office. We ensure the check up and anxiously wait for the physician to tell us, “Everything looks good.” We breathe a sigh of relief and are ready to go about our life again.
I encourage you to try these three feedback avenues with your team. Start those check-ups now so you can not only hear those “everything looks good” words, but be healthy and thrive.
The doctor is in.