The saying “little things mean a lot” typically refers to romantic relationships – but it also applies in the workplace!
Most employers pay attention to the “big things” that motivate and retain employees, like pay, benefits and opportunity for advancement. With massive talent shortages on the horizon, however, you need to also be aware of seemingly insignificant things that can greatly undermine your ability to keep your best people.
But just what are those “little things?”
Honestly, they can be tough to pinpoint – often because you and your managers may be doing them unconsciously. Here are a few examples:
- Mispronouncing an employee’s name. While you may think it’s no big deal, this sends the message that you don’t care enough about the individual to take the time and learn how to pronounce his name the right way.
- Glancing at your watch while a team member makes a presentation. A gesture like this non-verbally communicates your impatience, or that you find what’s being presented to be a waste of your time.
- Speaking sarcastically. Almost everyone uses sarcasm from time-to-time – but that doesn’t mean it’s good management practice. A sensitive employee may misinterpret your occasionally sarcastic remarks as attacks on him personally or professionally.
As a manager, you send dozens of powerful “micromessages” every time you speak or gesture. While an employee may dismiss the occasional perceived slight as insignificant, over time these messages have a cumulative effect. Use these tips from A.R. Mazzotta to make sure your messaging is positive and motivating:
- Talk about it. Spend a few minutes during your next meeting discussing the topic. Let employees know that you take “the little things” seriously – and that their satisfaction with your management practices is important.
- Survey employees. Not sure what bothers your employees? Distribute a simple, anonymous survey to gather feedback. Ask employees what managers do that sets them off. Look for evidence of negative, dismissive or negligent patterns of behavior that need to be addressed.
- Train supervisors. Training is a great way to make managers more aware (and more in control) of unconscious behaviors that demoralize your staff. Have your team role-play situations demonstrating both attentive/supportive management behaviors and dismissive/negative ones. Ask managers to make notes of the verbal and non-verbal messages they see, and then use those as a starting point for follow-up training. The goal of this training should be to make supervisors more aware of how and what they’re subtly communicating to their team, every day – and how to make those communications more positive.
- Habitualize positive micromessaging. Once your managers are more aware of “the little things” that matter to employees, brainstorm ways to keep those micromessages positive. Make a list of small actions supervisors can take each day to keep employees motivated. Help them habitualize activities like: making direct eye contact; encouraging participation from all employees; communicating interest nonverbally; asking questions to develop rapport; recognizing the contributions of all workers.
Small positive efforts like these may seem insignificant on their own. In time, however, they’ll produce a giant return on investment – creating a more engaged workforce that feels appreciated and is motivated to perform for you.
Another great way to build a more engaged, motivated workforce? Supplement your team with A.R. Mazzotta temporary employees. As a leading CT employment agency, we can supply highly skilled personnel to support your core employees – alleviating overwork and freeing them to focus on their most important priorities. Want to learn more? Contact us today.