Business growth comes with its benefits and drawbacks. While every business owner dreams of growing their business, once it begins to grow larger, it also grows more and more difficult for leaders to ensure it’s maintaining support for each and every employee.
Happy employees make a successful business, which is why it’s important to support them. Below, 15 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share their best advice on how leaders of growing organizations can gain a better pulse on their workforce.
Use the ‘back to bedside’ approach.
A colleague of mine in healthcare uses what is called the “back to bedside” approach, which involves leaders and administrators shadowing direct support professionals in the field to literally walk in their shoes. One of the biggest issues leaders have is needing to focus on the big picture while satisfying the small-picture needs of the folks they lead. This approach gives them that perspective. – Michaele Esdale, Outcome Capital
Show value to the stakeholders.
Whatever you put in place needs to show value to the stakeholders and be scalable and sustainable. In this case, stakeholders would be leadership and the employees. Data needs to be accurate for leadership and employees need to see actionable results from their input. Also, make sure that whatever tools or processes you implement are easy to use and provide accurate data for leadership. – Mark Reichert, Improving
Stay connected with in-person events.
We have found, as it became safe to do so, that having in-person events (luncheons, discussion groups, Happy Hours, sports-related contests, etc.) has helped us gain better insight into how the last few pandemic years have really affected our employees. By creating opportunities to mingle, gather and otherwise touch base on a human level, our employees feel more connected to the firm. – Kerryann Cook, The Cook Group
Pay close attention to turnover trends.
Stay better connected with your operational team and pay close attention to turnover trends. While the job and candidate market has undoubtedly changed, turnover metrics typically reflect something deeper on the team and within the organization. Some companies rely on exit interviews to tell the story, but in most cases that feedback is often received too late in the transition phase. – Lerah Harris, Kforce, Inc.
Be purposeful about staying in touch.
In a remote company, be purposeful about staying in touch with employees. Create a culture of openness in inviting every employee’s perspective. Twice a year, we send out a net promoter score form to get employees’ anonymous advice on what we can do better. Implement 360 communication through regular one-on-one meetings, OKRs, leadership meetings and all staff meetings keep people engaged. – Jason Hennessey, Hennessey Digital
Operate based on core values.
Have core values in place, such as transparency and open and honest communication coupled with daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly check-ins with your team to gauge their temperature. This also helps to create a culture of constant two-way feedback where the employee is given the opportunity to be heard and leadership is given the opportunity to listen and respond. – Elliott Noble-Holt, MediCopy
Be inclusive by engaging minority opinions.
Engage the minority opinion — do this not with the intent of changing their minds, but rather to establish that you are open to listening and understanding other points of view. Building a culture of psychological safety requires us to withhold judgment. I truly believe you will find more common ground that enables you to include more voices as you move forward. – Jennifer Lundy, Seton Hill University
Ask for anonymous employee feedback.
Ask for employee feedback. We host an internal news segment bi-weekly where our presidents and CMO address anonymous feedback from our team members that they want to be informed of. This could be anything from the state of the business to different activities around the office. This allows for transparency within our leadership to remain open to change and hear what our employees have to say. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group
Invest in employee performance software.
Invest in employee performance software, such as 15Five, where there is a weekly check-in function that tracks the “pulse” on a scale of one to five of the individual and rolls it up to the entire company. This allows leaders to have a high-level view of how employees are feeling at work and can dig deeper into those that need more engagement or support accordingly. – Sherine Khalil, Valor Compounding Pharmacy
Create digital touchbases.
Determine the digital or Zoom equivalent of “management by walking around.” In the traditional paradigm, the best way to understand the needs of an employee and provide guidance and mentorship was by walking around the office. Creating these kinds of organic touchbases in a digital, far-flung work environment is helpful for gaining insights and understanding where improvements are required. – Peter Prodromou, Boston Digital
Use PEERs for ideas, input and concerns.
To keep a better pulse on our team, we have implemented Periodic Employee Engagement Reviews (PEERs) where managers meet one-on-one with team members to listen to their ideas, input and concerns. We also have a follow-up process to ensure team members know they are heard and their input is taken seriously. This helps both the company and our team members excel as we work toward a common goal. – Joe Reilly, National Drug Screening, Inc.
Create a people-first business culture.
Create a people-first culture for your business. This way, each person comes to work with an expectation of being treated with dignity and respect rather than being treated as a vessel to get work done. For my firm, this means starting off meetings with more subjective personal questions that allow everyone to share a bit more about where they are. – Jenn Kenning, Align Impact
Use an EOS management system.
To maintain a pulse on our workforce, we embrace the Traction EOS management system. EOS encourages weekly same-page meetings between direct reports and their supervisors, along with weekly team meetings by department. Additionally, we set aside two days of the week to group all in-person meetings, putting everyone in one place during those days to encourage informal communication. – Jason Dunn, DACS Corp
Notice changes in behavior patterns.
We have key performance indicators that we track to ensure that our staff is getting what they need. For example, absenteeism could be a sign of a bigger problem. Just recently I had a key player at our practice take two mental health days in a row. This was extremely out of character and it turns out that they were not OK. Noticing changes in patterns of behavior can be a great compass. – Mackenzie Toland, A New Leaf Therapeutic Services PLLC
Be available to your team.
Make yourself available to your workforce. Stay connected to the heart and soul of your company and be open to dialogue with your employees. Creating an open space and environment where people know they are respected and appreciated as a person and as a professional can encourage clear and direct feedback to one another. – Jack Smith, Fortuna Business Management Consulting