Leader Action Plan: Mid-Year Check-In
Leader Action Plan: Mid-Year Check-In
When I was working for one of those Fortune 150 companies, one of my favorite regional VP’s was one who called every person on her team each year — even those of us who didn’t directly report to her.
The conversation was casual — like two people meeting up for a cup of coffee. Of course, we had an opportunity to ask her about work, but it was really a conversation about getting to know each other.
She had a calming manner about her that made her easy to talk to. Of course, these conversations also made it more comfortable when you met with her in person, because you already felt like you knew her a bit and vice versa.
However, the most important thing these conversations did was to create a bond of trust with each other. They made you feel loyal to her. Therefore, when she asked you to do something, even if you thought it wasn’t going to help you achieve your micro goal — you still wanted to do it. You felt like you were helping someone you had a relationship with, not just a boss giving you a directive.
In my entire corporate career, she was the one leader I can honestly say I never wanted to disappoint. I also noticed this attitude amongst my colleagues too. She’s possibly the only VP I ever worked for that I don’t recall hearing anything negative said about her by any of her direct reports — which is kind of unheard of when you lead many people over several years.
I’m not saying the only reason for this is that she spoke to each of us — but that personalized leadership style was bigger than a phone call. It was how she led every day.
You can develop that type of relationship with your team, but it takes effort and time to create a culture where your team looks forward to an annual coffee chat with the boss.
Let’s get started with a Leader Action Plan:
1. Schedule a 20-minute call with each team member between now and the end of June — make sure that you block off 30 minutes for each call so you can go over a bit if needed.
2. Only do one or two calls per day so they don’t start to feel like a task — if it’s feeling like a chore to you, then the conversation will sound like that to your employee.
3. Leave any preconceived notations you have about the person you are chatting with off the table. If you haven’t met someone in person, acknowledge that you’re meeting them (via phone) for the first time. If you’re talking to someone you’ve worked with or known for years, then build on that personal relationship.
4. Try to leave your “boss hat” at the door and be a person — the employee you’re speaking with will follow your lead, since you are the leader. It’s natural for everyone to have “talking to the boss-jitters,” so it’s your job to set the tone.
When your team feels personally comfortable with you, they are also more likely to work harder for you. They will be more willing to honestly share how to improve processes and procedures. They will trust your directives even if you admit you can’t share all of the details about a situation.
Despite our world of technology that’s replaced so much personal communication, people like to work for people they feel connected to. It’s part of our DNA — we’re tribal creatures — even your introvert team members. People want to feel connected to people and a purpose bigger than themselves.
Happier at work leaders create a culture that CAREs when they take the time to know their team members beyond a name on an organization chart.
It’s also an opportunity for you to remember that you’re leading people who want to do a good job for you, but also have lives outside the office and their career goals. It reminds you that everyone is more than their profession.
If you feel this Leadership Action Plan was beneficial — then do it at the end of the year too. When you build on this activity, it can become something you and your team members look forward to.