As busy professionals, we all have way too much to do every day. Selling work, scheduling work, managing our people, etc. Sometimes we are busy being busy. How do we make time to engage our employees? Whether it is a formal training event or just a brief conversation, how do you make your people feel important? Find the time to be with them.
Nothing makes people feel better than when “the boss” takes the time to be sincerely interested in how they are doing. It’s not easy, but it is important.
The best way to do this is to block off a half day each month to think strategically. Get away from your phone and laptop so you cannot be distracted. You can use this time to think uninterruptedly about many subjects, but an important part of any company strategy is to spend time with your staff. By deepening your relationships, it makes it easier to have the difficult conversations when you need to about attendance, punctuality or more serious matters.
Set up check-ins, which should be informal but still meaningful conversations. A check-in is a good opportunity to ask open-ended questions about how they feel about the company. Ask specific questions regarding how they feel about safety, scheduling, their career path and any other subjects you want to discuss. I strongly suggest you have a specific script.
You need to be brave enough to listen to their thoughts and ideas without taking it personally. This makes them feel important and, even more important, makes them more comfortable speaking with you. This should not replace an annual review, but it’s a great way to stay in touch and gain a different perspective.
Plan and schedule formal training events. These are a good way to build camaraderie. Whether it is climbing training for new people or aerial rescue for the whole company, it’s time and money well spent. Come up with a serious, safe and challenging event, and celebrate afterward with dinner.
Obviously, this also is an opportunity to delegate certain people to organize and run the training event. However, “the boss” should still be there and make it a point to say hello to everyone and thank them for being part of the team. Delegating is very important, because it not only frees up a manager’s time to do other things, it empowers others to move up into important roles.
Always remember that you cannot delegate face time with your people. Granted, with all the responsibilities of running a company, it’s not easy to find the time, but the best bosses make it a priority.
Almost everyone considers finding and retaining staff one of their greatest needs. However, we all need to be better at committing the time to doing more. So put it in your calendar, be thoughtful in your approach and make it happen. Dare I say, you might even enjoy it.
David M. Anderson, CTSP and Massachusetts certified arborist, is a manager with Mayer Tree Service Inc., a 31-year TCIA member company based in Essex, Massachusetts, and is a member of the TCI Magazine Editorial Advisory Committee.
This article first ran in the Massachusetts Arborists Association Spring 2023 newsletter.