Employee Engagement, leadership | Article

6 Tips for Staying Tuned in to Your Team

Staying tuned in to employees’ feelings and engagement levels can be challenging, especially in the virtual workplace. But there are actions leaders can take to tune in!

What does it mean to be tuned in to your team? It means being in touch with your team members’ thoughts, feelings, problems, and motivational states. Being in touch with these things matters for many reasons. It can affect engagement, retention, and even the happiness levels of your employees. Here are some tips for tuning in!

1. Start with psychological safety

Engaging and checking in with your employees won’t matter if they don’t feel safe. Create a space in which people can speak freely. If people fear backlash, they are not very likely to openly express themselves. Make your employees feel comfortable telling you what you need to hear rather than what they think you want to hear.

2. Meet people where they are

One of the keys to effective communication is attention to preferences. If an individual prefers in-person contact, try to consistently make that happen. If an individual prefers meeting virtually, go that route. Respect their decisions and don’t impose your own preferences on them. Stick to what each employee prefers to help them feel at ease. Fairness isn’t about treating everyone the same, it’s about treating people as they deserve.

3. Ask genuine questions

Go deeper than just surface level chit chat. Ask your employees meaningful questions to find out how they are feeling. Some great questions to ask during check-ins are:

  • How motivated are you at the current time?
  • What are the things you like about projects you are working on? Dislike?
  • How are you finding the collaborations and dynamics with others?
  • Have you been recognized by peers recently? What about by your direct manager?
  • Is there anything you would want to change about your job?
  • How is the team morale and energy right now?
  • What could I do to make your job better?

Use discretion to determine when, how, and how often to ask each one. Some may be appropriate on a frequent basis such as during weekly one-on-ones. Maybe that means they fill out a template answering some of these questions ahead of time. Other questions may make more sense to ask monthly, quarterly, or yearly. Figure out if your employees respond better to spontaneous in-person questions or virtual survey-type questions.

4. Demonstrate vulnerability

One of the best ways to tune into your teams is to give them a sense of where you are at. A two-way channel of openness is important for trust and authentic communication. Model the very behaviors that you want to see from your team. If you want them to vulnerable with you, then you must first be vulnerable with them.

5. Follow through on feedback

To be open with you, employees need to know there won’t be bad repercussions if they bring up something negative. Encourage them to speak up and tell you when something is wrong. When they do come to you, follow through with action. Find ways to make things better or address the issue at hand. Monitor whether things improve and follow up in one-on-ones. Your employees will also be more candid when they see you care.

6. Utilize good tools

There are tons of tools out there to help you gauge your team’s engagement and satisfaction. Consider frequent pulse surveys rather than solely a yearly survey. Another form of feedback to think about is 360 degree feedback. This is when you gather input from multiple team members and includes peer-to-peer feedback.

At the end of the day, staying tuned into your teams has many benefits. Knowing how your employees are feeling is important – and so is doing everything you can to improve their experience in the first place. If your organization uses an employee engagement platform, log in daily to recognize your employees on a regular basis. By engaging employees daily, you’ll be naturally tuned in already.