Habits are things you do automatically without thinking about them. You may already do some of these things consistently, while others may take practice to become habits. Here are a few insights to help you think about each of these behaviors and how they positively impact your team.
1. Always share your bigger future.
All team members, especially those who are growth-oriented, gain confidence when they know your plans for the future. At the very least, it provides job security, and at best gives people confidence that there’s room for them to grow within the company as well. They can then picture their own bigger future within your bigger future vision.
When you’re doing your goal setting, be sure to take 30 minutes to an hour to sit down with your team and share what you’d most like to accomplish over the next year. This allows them to ask valuable questions and contribute their thoughts and ideas. It helps to know in advance what’s expected, and, by having this conversation, you’ve empowered your team to help you achieve your goals.
2. Always take the time to communicate.
This can be a tough habit to remember, especially when things get hectic. Operating without key facts and information is difficult for anyone, but especially hard for team members who depend on you for direction and for their livelihood. Communicating the essentials—what you want done, by when, and to what quality standard—with the relevant background information gives them what they need to know to deliver the results you want. You can protect your team’s confidence by keeping them in the loop with key information or with changes in your thinking.
It usually helps to set up regular communication structures, e.g., regular project huddles, email forums and conferences, and Zoom calls. These meetings provide a venue for people to update not only you but also one another on project developments. It’s easy and convenient for your team to stay informed if you make it a habit to put the communication structures in place from the beginning.
3. Always say “please” and “thank you” — sincerely.
One of the key habits to finding and keeping great team members is to treat them with respect. Saying “please” and “thank you” is one of the most basic, and easy to forget, ways of doing this. Like the other three Referability Habits—show up on time, do what you say, and finish what you start—this is a way of showing respect and being credible to your team. Saying “please” demonstrates respect for your team members as people and recognizes that you’re asking them to contribute their efforts and talents. Saying “thank you” acknowledges that contribution and communicates that you don’t take them for granted.
One thing to keep in mind is to always be sincere. Writing “p&ty” (please and thank you) on memos to your team, as one entrepreneur did, will not be perceived as heartfelt or sincere. Handwritten notes, voicemails, and small tokens of appreciation such as coffee or movie gift certificates are ways to express your genuine thanks. Making this personal investment in your team has the added benefit of making you feel good as well.
4. Always keep their growth needs in mind.
Another way to treat team members with respect is to keep their growth needs in mind as you expand and grow the business. Your best people will also become growth partners if they trust that you’re looking out for their best interests and that you’re open to their taking on new challenges.
One of the easiest ways to practice this habit is to regularly let people know you’re thinking about their future, either in casual conversation, more formalized reviews, or growth plan meetings. Another way, which is easy for some entrepreneurs and more difficult for others, is to constantly give them new opportunities without looking over their shoulder. To do this, you’ll need to trust that even when they make mistakes, their intention is to do their best and learn from the situation. Allowing people to take risks, even if it means failing occasionally, gives them confidence that they can grow along with you. This helps you keep their talent in your company rather than losing it to another growth opportunity elsewhere.
5. Always keep your cool, and have fun.
As we discuss in The Strategic Coach Program, having a great company “Front Stage” is essential to your business’s success and future. And having a great personal Front Stage is essential to your success and future as a leader of your company. Controlling your temper, apologizing when you make mistakes, being professional as well as personable, and having fun as well as being focused are all qualities that make you someone who is great to work for.
Though it’s sometimes difficult to see the influence you have, your team looks up to you as a model for how to handle themselves. Take a look at your personal Front Stage and evaluate what’s working and what’s not. If need be, make any necessary improvements so that you’re presenting the best of yourself and providing a great role model for your team. Make yourself someone you’d love to work for, and your team will repay the effort with extra respect and loyalty.
Progress, not perfection.
If reading this has given you some ideas, remember that it takes 21 days to change a habit. Though you may want to make changes overnight, go easy on yourself. Your team will appreciate every bit of effort you put into being a great boss. Just pick your favorite habit and start practicing!
If you’re an entrepreneur looking to maximize your leadership skills, the next step is our free webinar: “Are You A Manager Or A Leader? Define Your Role In Your Business & Grow Your Self-Managing Company”