5 Ways to Re-Connect with Employees for 2018

Happy New Year!! I always love the beginning of January as it is a time to reflect and reset, and most importantly a time to connect with your employees as an inspirational leader. Federal employees (supervisors, too!) face a lot of uncertainty these days with unknown budgets, changing missions, hiring freezes, and more. Despite that, government-wide engagement scores on the Federal ViewPoint Survey were up for the third year in a row. And, the good news is employees consistently rated their immediate supervisors higher than any other factor driving workplace engagement. That demonstrates just how important it is for you to connect with your employees. In that spirit, I offer the following ways to help you re-connect (or further connect), with inspiration, for 2018.

1. Take 30 minutes to write down all the things you love about your job. Let’s face it, if you feel better about your job, you’ll come to work healthier and happier and that will help you lead your group with contagious enthusiasm. This is an exercise in gratitude. If you get stuck, you can ask yourself a couple of questions:
Why did I take this job? How has it made me better? How have I made others better? What keeps me coming back every day?

2. Read an inspiring leadership book. This relates back to #1 – keeping your own inspiration high. Two books I really connected with this past year are:
Good Authority: How to Become the Leader Your Team is Waiting For, by Jonathan Raymond, 2016.
The Radical Leap: A Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership, by Steve Farber, 10th Anniversary Edition, 2014.

3. Schedule a team meeting where the sole topic is *Purpose*. Ask your team to define (or re-define) the team’s purpose. Not in some formal documented “vision” kind of thing, but just in everyday language: “why are we here?” “how do we make other’s lives better?” “how do we help our community? our country?” Listen carefully to their responses, giving them a chance to re-discover their purpose and remember why the job they do every day really matters. Close the meeting by asking “is there anything we can do better to meet that purpose in 2018?” and capture the consensus response.

4. Conduct one-on-one sessions with every team member where the sole topic is your *Connection* to each other. Ask each employee what works best for them in terms of improving and keeping that connection with you. Remember, everybody is a little different.
Mode: Face-to-face? Video Conference? Phone? Text? Email? interoffice messaging? Use caution with texting, emailing, and messaging because without seeing or hearing the other person, you don’t have  any emotional content, and that can easily lead to misunderstandings.
Frequency: Weekly? Biweekly? Monthly? All the research shows you should meet individually once a month with each employee in what I call a “person-based” meeting to check in and see how it’s going. For some employees — especially extraverts or those who thrive with feedback and direction — more might be even better.
Content: Structured or unstructured? Agenda or no agenda? Strictly work or personal too? Some people will prefer a regular and predictable format, others may thrive with a go-with-the-flow approach.
In the course of the discussion, express your needs and likes as well. By the end of your meeting together you will have created a formula for improved connection in 2018.

5. Find your 1/40th Habit ™ In our classes we introduce the 1/40th Habit, and we explained it in our Blog Establishing a Feedback Habit. This habit involves committing one hour each week to recognizing high performers and providing constructive feedback to those you are bringing along. If you are already doing this, perhaps you can find your own 1/40th Habit. Ask yourself, “What’s the one thing I know I should do every week, but don’t when I get busy or sidetracked?” Once you identify that habit, pick an hour of the week — each week — and commit to making this your number one activity. It’s not that hard; it’s only 1/40th (or less) of your workweek!