Walk a Mile in Your Employees’ Shoes

Walk a Mile in Your Employees’ Shoes

By Zach Heller

By: Zach Heller

“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” – Anne M. Mulcahy, former CEO of Xerox Corporation (named CEO of the Year in 2008)

Managing employees today is more difficult in many ways than it used to be. More and more, it is about managing each individual personality; managing a person rather than managing a team.

Not everyone is a cog in a wheel, easily replaceable. Not everyone has the same motivation, and so the same incentives don’t work across the board.

It takes a more personal approach. Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin by Deloitte, explains that “Performance management is now being totally redesigned – with a focus on much more simplicity, coaching, agile goal management, and developmental feedback.”

And one great way to better understand your employees is to walk a mile in their shoes. By that, I mean spending a day with them, performing their tasks, and learning what their life is all about.

Only by spending one on one time with them, actively doing what it is you ask them to do every day, can you truly understand their goals, their motivations, and how best they can improve and grow.

Here is an example of how it might work:

Announce to your team that are creating a new program wherein you will be spending time getting to know more about their roles at the company.

One day each week should be earmarked for getting to know an employee (training days).

The employees should know ahead of time what day you’ll be with them so they can prepare for it.
During that day, you should observe what they do and how they do it. Picture a new waiter at a restaurant shadowing someone more experienced.

Along the way, ask leading questions about why they do certain tasks this way or that way. Get to know more about what drives them, what resources are available to them, and how they make decisions that come up.

With each employee and each job it will be a different experience, and it is important to get to know the person as much as the jobs they perform.

You should come way from each training day with a better understanding of the person and the job. This will help you improve each function, show you where your help is most needed, and give you an idea what levers to pull when motivating each of your employees to perform their jobs more effectively.

Do you have experience in managing people? Share your own personal tips and experiences in the comments below.

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