For example, if you see photos of children in someone’s office, you don’t have to ask, “Are those your kids?” You can simply comment, “Those are beautiful children.” With that one acknowledgment, most people will open up, tell you who the children are, and offer lots more personal information. Likewise, if you see sports gear stashed away in a corner of someone’s cubicle, you don’t have to ask, “Do you play tennis [or whatever sport is evident]?” Instead, you can comment, “I’ve always been interested in tennis.” Again, the person will naturally start talking about the sport, team or league he’s on, accomplishments and so much more. While it’s true most people don’t want to sit through a session of 20 questions with their boss, they do enjoy being acknowledged—not just for their work but their other interests.
Look at the Big Picture
The average full-time employee works 2,080 hours per year at the office. That doesn’t include time he puts in at night and on the weekends. With all of today’s technological innovations, more people are connected to work 24/7, even while on vacation. As the separation between work and life becomes narrowed—what many people are referring to as a “blur” of roles—a person’s ability to focus intently on any one role becomes more difficult, resulting in errors and burnout.
In many organizations, bosses set the expectation for this blur because they’re not looking at the big picture of what the organization accomplishes. Rather, they’re focusing on the day-to-day stressors, the errors, the requests for time off, or the employee’s lunch hour that was really an hour and a half. By keeping your eye on the day-to-day details, you’re missing the big picture of what your staff really contributes. In essence, you’re adding undue stress on everyone—including yourself. Of course, details are important, but it’s also vital to take a step back and look at the big picture so you can see your employees as people and not as parts of a machine to be fixed.
Take Management to a 'Whole' New Level
When you put the “human” element back into human-resources management, you’re acknowledging the needs of the employees so they can perform better. When employees feel recognized as more than just a number on a monthly report, they tend to give you more discretionary effort or what’s called “citizenship behavior,” where they’re supportive of other employees and of the organization as a whole.
As an added benefit, when employees are more supportive of their bosses, the bosses’ workload becomes less stressful, too. Ultimately, the sooner you recognize all the drivers and drainers that impact people and manage them, the sooner you’ll be able to create a high-performing team.
Dr. Marty Martin has been speaking and training nationally and internationally for many years. His second book, "Taming Disruptive Behavior" will be published this year, and he’s working on his third book, "Do You Have Career Insurance?" Martin is an associate professor in the College of Commerce at DePaul University in Chicago. For more information, visit www.drmartymartin.com .