Don’t underestimate the power of just hanging out with your employees. But you’ve got to just hang–don’t turn it into a business talk! Also, spend time with people who aren’t your favorites. If you only hang out with the favorites, then you’ll continue to build walls within your teams that they see, but you don’t. And that isn’t good for you or your company.
When you’re just spending time chatting casually with employees, you’ll see that they like that you’re hanging out with them in an unstructured way. They’ll start to open up to you as a person, and this will go a long way for your business and building the culture you want. Think of it like a dinner party: if you had a group of friends over for dinner, you’d chat with each of them and ensure they were having fun. Do the same at the office.
Close to thirty years ago, Tom Peters wrote the book, In Search of Excellence, and in it he introduced us to an acronym called “MBWA.” MBWA stands for “Management By Walking Around.” This doesn’t mean interrupting people while they are trying to focus. However, it does mean spending time with all the employees near or at their workspaces in casual interaction. The more time you spend doing MBWA, the more you will truly learn about what’s really going on in your company, and the more the teams will respond to you as a leader.
If you have a huge company and don’t physically have time to hang out with everyone, take a different path out of the office at the end of the day. Wander between different rows of workstations or past different work areas just chat to people or say hi quickly. You will notice the energy rise.
For information on this topic, check out: Leadership at 100MPH.