Senior leaders who never leave executive row or who hibernate behind closed doors are sending a negative message to staff. Executives who only show up at town hall meetings or quarterly celebrations are doing more harm than good for employee engagement. They think their occasional presence is justified by their job title, however their consistent absence among the ranks is confirmation that they’re removed from the business’s front line. For executives to bolster employee engagement, it is imperative they walk the floor.
“People will care about your business when they know you care about them” is a phrase you have heard, hopefully. When managers and staff experience an encounter with a senior leader on their turf, it sends a message that they are important. Executives visiting employees at their desk, just to say hello or wish them a restful weekend gives executives an opportunity to show genuine care for staff. The recognition employees get when the top dog addresses them by name, and remembers their name, goes a long way. It’s safe to say that simple gesture evokes a feeling of “I am someone!” for employees.
On level ground
Walking the floor and engaging employees in small talk allows employees the opportunity to get to know you a little better. Most of what executives demonstrate to employees is all work and no play, so use face-to-face dialogue to reveal a bit more about yourself, whether it is your formal education or your favorite sports team. It’s a chance to let down your guard without feeling too vulnerable. People remember stories more than facts and figures, so you’ll be surprised what tiny details they’ll treasure about you.
Another benefit of being present on a regular and consistent basis is channeling employee feedback. The TV show “Undercover Boss” has demonstrated this repeatedly. Staff members report issues to managers, and managers either blow them off or they escalate the issue to upper management, who do nothing to resolve it. Great companies have numerous employee feedback channels, however the best and the most effective way for staff to voice their opinions and concerns is direct to the executive leaders who can do something about it.
Build a relationship
Walking the floor is a major step to building a positive relationship with staff. The better frontline employees get to know senior leaders give them a renewed perspective – you’re all in this together. There is a shared sense of pride and camaraderie because you’re on the same team, aiming to please current and prospective clients.
All levels of the management team should adopt this practice to motivate and inspire employees because eventually, they’ll gain a better understanding of the organization’s mission. Staff who feel appreciated are more willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done because they care about the business versus just doing their job. ■