Teddy Roosevelt enjoyed a tough-guy persona, but one quote widely attributed to him shows his softer side: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Those are profound words from a Rough Rider and wise ones to keep in mind as a leader.
Like most business professionals, you want your company to be successful. You focus on delivering phenomenal customer service and offering quality products. But are you overlooking something obvious on your road map to success? Are you forgetting to create a workplace where employees feel nurtured and engaged and are less likely to leave as soon as a better offer comes along?
In other words, are you showing you care?
From neighborhood mom-and-pop shops to Fortune 500 conglomerates, every business could benefit from a heavy dose of caring. In an environment where workplace stress is linked to a loss of $500 billion each year, as well as employee cardiovascular disease and death, caring is a much-needed commodity. Research shows that caring work environments lead to less worker burnout, more positivity, improved interpersonal engagements, heightened attentiveness to customer relations, and a better quality of life among personnel.
Clearly, caring belongs on any winning game plan.
Forging a Tight-Knit Culture of Caring
How does a culture of caring come to fruition? It’s the result of deliberate executive- and C-suite-level behaviors that trickle down to every individual and team. The perks of a caring culture are not medical benefits or vacation days — although those are important, too — but rather those little workday actions, reactions, and interactions that multiply over time.
Developing a caring culture starts with a few initial steps aimed at holding on to top talent and building an enviable dream team.
1. Know what drives and motivates your employees.
What do your workers love about their jobs? What keeps them excited and engaged? Don’t know? Just ask. Then use their answers to improve individual work experiences by allowing employees to explore their passions while remaining true to the company’s mission and vision.
2. Be a transparent leader.
Trust is a direct result of transparency. Share information whenever possible. This keeps destructive rumors and half-truths at bay and helps employees feel that they are valued and that they belong. Most people strive to be a part of something bigger. Give them a stake in the company by holding regular update meetings and truthfully answering questions.
3. Let employees take the reins.
Your staff members have plenty of ideas that could make your company stronger. Have you asked for their feedback? Allow them to occasionally try to test initiatives. When applicable, put workers in responsible roles to stretch their abilities and inspire confidence. Yes, they’ll sometimes fail. When they do, help them rebound without judgment.
4. Be upfront about performance goals.
When employees don’t know what management expects of them, they become frustrated and disengaged. Be clear about your expectations, and show managers how to do likewise. No employee deserves to find out after the fact that they could have improved if they had only known what you wanted to see.
5. Focus on strengths, not weaknesses.
It can be tempting to emphasize employees’ weak areas, but that leads to dehumanization and demoralization. Rather than constantly picking at workers’ problem areas, look for opportunities to recognize them for the good they do. In a Gallup poll, about two-thirds of those employed by an organization that focused on their strengths felt engaged in the workplace. By comparison, the same study showed that less than one-third of people working in a weakness-emphasized culture felt similarly.
6. Provide competitive compensation.
Your workers can’t be expected to work for a pittance. They deserve fair compensation based on market rates. It’s impossible to keep talented workers if you aren’t willing to pay them wages that make them feel rewarded. Why risk losing an outstanding employee over a salary bump when it would cost so much time, energy, and money to find and train a suitable replacement?
7. Offer rewards and celebrate wins.
You shouldn’t have to look far to find examples of inspired leadership in your company. Are you regularly rewarding these acts of excellence? Productive, happy workers must be noticed and incentivized. Make coaching, mentoring, and even career-development assistance available as rewards to keep your top players aware that their contributions are respected and applauded.
Creating a caring environment may seem like a soft perk, but don’t make the mistake of underestimating its power to entice employees to give it their all and stick around: Your employees will be happier on a daily basis, and your bottom line will thank you, too.
Cultivating a culture of caring begins at recruitment. Want to learn more about how you can take your recruiting process to the next level and better engage employees? Download the e-book The C-Suite Handbook to Strategic Recruitment.
Read more: Creating a Great Culture
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