I’m feeling especially inspired after a great sermon this morning at church. It focused on five investments in our personal relationships that unconditional love leads people to make. In and of itself, it was a powerful message for application in my personal life.
On the drive home, in a moment of lateral thinking, it struck me that these five things are applicable when it comes to professional relationships. And especially relevant when it comes to Leaders investing time and energy into the individuals on their team.
First, give instruction. But not just any instruction. Make sure you take the time to show how to do things correctly. To make sure it’s understood the instruction given is to provide the most benefit to your customers. And that those on your team are capable of giving and staying true to that instruction.
Second, give encouragement. The top pitfall that can bring people down is being discouraged. Ultimately, it can lead to apathy. That is not to say you should puff someone up if it’s not deserved, but seek to be consistent in your encouragement and keep it focused on the instructions to do things correctly. Be aware of when someone is moving into a part of their role that is challenging, or a time of year that is tougher than others. Lift people up.
Third, give affirmation. When you see someone doing something well, tell them right then. If you hear about someone doing something well, make sure they know that you know. We have so many tools to communicate with our teams these days that finding ways to give affirmation – and encouragement for that matter – should be easy. Try to do it in as real time as possible.
Fourth, give example(s). Now, this is mainly focused on the example of how you as a Leader behave, engage and go about your work. Demonstrate how your team should act by showing them in everything that you do – including and especially in how you work with them.
But I’ll extend it. Give specific examples whenever you can of your expectations. This can be scenarios provided of how to manage certain situations. This can be learning opportunities of situations that did not go well and how it could have gone better. Concrete examples are effective when it comes to instruction, encouragement and affirmation as well.
Fifth, give them a vision. I’m reinterpreting this point a bit from the sermon, but I believe it fits. As a Leader, you need to show your team that they have the opportunity to grow, to one day being not just someone who works for you, but a colleague. Help them understand what that path looks like and what it takes to be successful on it. They may want something else – which you should seek to understand – but you – and they – won’t know until the vision is given.