Using all of your senses, to help you test how your people are feeling in your business, is a learned skill. Once you start to use it, your abilities to notice become refined and you have a background sensor working for you, day after day.
As a precursor to having the quick route into how your people are feeling each day, it is a big help if you have open and honest relationships with them to start with. This comes from keeping in regular conversation with them, being true to your word and understanding that it is not always your business that is the most important thing in their lives. Make a start on getting these right and you will be well on your way!
By sensing the following five things, you will build rapport much more easily and learn what’s going on with your people quickly, time after time.
* Mood The first, easiest and most powerful thing to sense is mood. As part of your morning welcomes to your people, naturally engaging in conversation will give you a hint about mood. Take care here, many people are overly sesnitive to fault and blame here. It is easy to blame yourself through assumption. It is easy to blame others for behaving ‘stupidly’. The truth of mood is usually somewhere in-between or neither. A ‘sense’ of mood gives you a heads-up on how you might be exepcted to behave with that individual during the day. This can be varied pace, focus, challenge and urgency, amongst others. Know your people well and you will build a picture. Note, a good boss, will not avoid dealing with things which need dealing with, it’s more about the ‘how you do it’.
* Workload Holding great, open conversations will give you a feel for where they are in their workload. This is a ‘good thing’ to know and with experience you can judge what it means to each of your people. For example, some of your people will find it hard to say ‘no’ to you, the intimidating boss that you are (just kidding – I hope!). And that often means they can’t cope with the workload they take on. Getting sensitive to how each individual on your team responds is very important to you, and to them. You can help build their saying ‘no’ skills by encouraging honesty and reality and feedback – to you! Conversely, some people need much more workload to get the best from them – they thrive on the energy they get from a full to-do list. Your sensing their individual needs makes the difference.
* Health We all have off days. Sometimes it’s subclinical flu; sometimes it’s a bit of dodgy catering (as Dickens would say, ‘a piece of undercooked beef’). Whatever causes it, we feel under the weather. As a manager, you can get a feel for this if you know your people well enough. And let them know it’s OK to have a slower day sometimes. Hey, they’ve shown up, so lighten up and let people make their own pace on a bad day – by recognising this as their need right now you will build a reserve of trust in you, that will be in your favour in the future.
* Relationships It happens. Sometimes things get a bit strained. It might be between you and one of your key people, or it might be between two of them. We are all individuals and because of that we bring richness to our organisations and team. But – and it is a big but, the downside is that we can sometimes have different viewpoints – and that’s OK! If you are managing a team of your people, you will develop an understanding of just who is getting on well enough with whoever else – and conversely, you will develop a sense of who isn’t. Intervene with care. Choose the right time and place. It is worth the trouble to prepare and also to avoid it going on too long. By having a good ability to pick up on clues, you will be in the advance party to get things rolling positively again. Don’t let things drift for too long.
* Home Without effort, your people will bring their whole lives along with them to work. And sometimes they will need some help with their ‘domestics’. Now, it does require some skill to tackle these issues with them. Often it is best to appreciate their needs, listen a lot and use great coaching skills to help them see solutions. You will try hard not to become their ‘advisor’. But by being able to sense that they have troubles and need a little of you to help them, it works well for building your business relationship – and that is an investment which pays off. Taking care not to be too open here will pay dividends. You need to have a fall-back position where you can draw the line on your responsibility to them, yet be there for them.
By knowing your people in ways that only come from keeping in close, intimate touch with them, you will soon get to know them well, day by day, by honing and using your senses.
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