How to be a great leader by taking care of people

Thoughts By 3 months ago

Often we see job ads or company marketing telling us they have a “relaxed culture” or “flexible workplace” or even something along the lines of “a company that invests in you”. But what do these terms really mean?

Are these good enough or sufficient enough to keep an employee happy? Or for that matter keep them engaged and wanting to stay? What motivates the average person ? What is it that makes them loyal, makes them feel like they belong where they work? How can a company truly take care of its employees?

Curious term this: taking care. It just doesn’t stop at making good employee focussed policies and creating opportunities for training and development. These are essential but that’s just the basic building blocks of “taking care”.

I believe that taking care of employees, particularly by the leaders in the business, is one of the most important things in keeping employees happy and engaged at a company. It has the power to heal, it’s a medicine which alleviates pain.

“Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”

– Simon Sinek

So, what does a manager have to do to ‘take care’ of their team members?

  • As a manager, having a genuine interest in your team members, their challenges, their wins and their losses is taking care.
  • Asking them how they are feeling is taking care.
  • Ensuring they feel supported through all their wins and losses is taking care.

So what if someone made a mistake? If the employee tried their best and had honest intentions are they provided with the opportunity to fail and learn? If a manager supports and builds self confidence, that is taking care.

If your employees feel they are taken care of, they will in turn take care of the customers, and we all know happy customers means that the business will be taken care of.

A couple of years ago, I was having a challenging time in my personal life and although I tried not to let it affect my work, it did show up on my face. I looked stressed, smiled a little less, lost focus and my attention to detail suffered. It was also my first month in a new job and I was very much under probation.

It’s natural for a manager in this situation to pull a new employee aside and give feedback and even perhaps give a warning. Did my manager do that? No, quite the opposite! We had a long chat and what he said to me left me almost in tears, in a good way.

He said, I know you are facing some challenges, I can see that. Is there anything I can assist you with? If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s okay. Don’t worry or stress if your focus is wavering a bit. Don’t you worry if you’re not able to give 100% to your work right now, it’s alright. I trust you and believe in you as a person. I hired you as I could see your potential and I know that once this phase is over and you defeat what is troubling you, you will give 101% to your work. I’m here to support you in whatever you need to get through.

Shortly after, my situation improved and my troubles were behind me so I could again focus on my work.

But I never forgot how my manager made me feel that day. In that one conversation he created a life long loyalist for the company. Now that is taking care. That is what makes employees feel comfortable and warm, like they belong, that they are important and that they’re cared for, as an employee and a person.

Why an image of a warm snuggly puppy? Well, that to me represents warmth and comfort … the feeling of being taken care of …