There’s an old saying that the true test of a person’s character is what he or she does when no one’s watching. The same can be said about a team of employees. Managers can learn much about a team in terms of work ethic and accountability when they are out of the office for an extended period of time.
I experienced this firsthand after recently being away to recover from a medical procedure. As any manager will tell you, the stress of being away is much greater than that of being in-office. There’s a certain loss of control that can become untenable if your team isn’t properly aligned.
I was pleased to see how my team stood up to the test in my absence. Being away was beneficial not only for my physical health but my personal well-being, enabling me to recharge and brainstorm new ways to improve upon my return. Yet I wouldn’t have been able to truly relax without knowing my team was unified. Everything carried along as normal during my time away. In fact, department heads and some team members that report to me reached out several times to say that my energy was missed, and I received a “Thinking of You” card in the mail.
Often in life, we need to be put in uncomfortable or undesirable positions to learn and grow. This was certainly one of them, being restricted due to a medical recovery with no option but to trust that my team would carry the torch. They did, and I believe it’s a result of a personal touch that myself and my fellow supervisors have worked to incorporate into the employee experience. I have now seen the true fruits of this labor; when you put in the work to create a personal touch with your team, it will come back tenfold when you’re away.
In many ways, this experience was a refresher course on team building:
Always let your people know the extent of what you can do for them and the value you bring. This will help them to adopt the culture you need to advance key business objectives—whether you’re in or out of the office.
Far more important than being an expert in certain systems is your ability to build relationships of trust. It’s great to have a team that meets measures of quality and productivity, but it’s another thing entirely to have a team that will fight for one another and have each other’s backs.
It’s a privilege to be a leader, not a right. I know it can be difficult for managers with so much constantly on our plate, but it’s important that we make a concerted effort to listen, comfort and support employees. We need to be that mentor or coach they can come to with concerns.
If you do your job right, you can rest assured you’ll positively influence your teams and make an impact as a true leader. This way, you can take a breath of relief the next time you have to step out for whatever reason.
How are you driving productivity, engagement and satisfaction among your teams at all times?