The Importance of Being Visible: Connecting On a Personal Level with Your Team Members

by Tim Yeomans

As leaders there are such constant demands on your time that getting back to the 75 emails, returning calls, writing the proposal and reviewing the budget seem as though they take up every available minute. As we know from our personal experience, the press of the immediate can cause damage to the long-term health of the organization, specifically the people and the relationships that you as the leader have with them.

We hear often about the need for leaders to delegate. Delegation of tasks to competent team members is a great strategy to maximize your productivity as a leader and empower

your team. There is, however, one area that can simply not be delegated and should not be neglected. It is making time as the leader to be visible and invest in the relationships that are the cornerstone of your team’s successful performance. Knowing that the boss cares always precedes caring about what the boss knows. Taking time as a leader to intentionally schedule time to connect with our employees is an investment in your company, not an expenditure of time that you will never get back.

When being visible as the leader it is also quite important to be genuine. Just as with an important meeting, a few moments to prepare will do wonders in sending the message that you are engaged and supportive of the work. What projects are currently underway and who is carrying the load in specific sections of the project? A brief but authentic conversation about the work and the nuances that they are experiencing will provide background and context for future interactions.

As you are out and about a conversation about someone’s kids, significant other, family or pets can be a very positive entry into understanding them better as a person. Great leaders are always on the lookout for untapped potential within the team that they lead. Such conversations have the potential to further one’s knowledge about the talents of the team members.

Most leaders have heard the quote, you get what you inspect. Successful leaders understand that connections that transcend “inspection” and build trust between leaders and team members have the potential to be leveraged during times of challenge or difficulty. When the team members know that you know; about them as people, about their professional goals and aspirations, about their talents and efforts to improve, about their contributions to the company and their interests outside the workplace, then their willingness to contribute to the collective success of the team is heightened.

A message on the phone telling the person that you remember their birthday and you appreciate something specific about their work will be remembered throughout the year. A word of thanks or appreciation for a job well done, delivered in person, will be noted by that employee and anyone who might have witnessed or heard about the gesture. The simple act of inquiring in person about how a child is doing in school or the health of an aging relative will send a message that you are in touch with your team and are a leader for whom many would like to work.

As we all know It is challenging to show genuine empathy from behind a keyboard. The power being visible and present with the team pays dividends in the form of staff retention and recruitment of future talent. Nearly everyone wants to be on a good team, and having a leader that shows they care is a great cornerstone for future success.