Let’s face it, when our companies are searching for the perfect product/market fit or working to scale a repeatable business model, we have plenty of fires to extinguish and opportunities to chase. Closing that next deal, managing another huge money-making project, and releasing the features our customers have been knocking on our doors for can easily overshadow one crucial leadership duty we have – communication. You can overdo many things, but you can’t overdo communication.
Progress is the fuel that powers employee morale, and morale is like the air your team breathes. If you don’t replenish it, things will go downhill and people will head for the door. One way to improve morale is to build an oxygen-producing forest of communication. There are two great ways to foster communications:
Have regular 1 on 1s. These short 10-15 minute sync-ups are the best tool to get the “temperature” of where things are and provide encouragement. I am not talking about BS conversations about to-do lists. I am talking about providing regular recognition to the people you manage for their positive progress, giving them encouragement, and making sure they understand where their work fits in the big picture. These communications need to be genuine – no appeasing allowed.
Hold at least quarterly company-wide meetings. Your goal is to share big picture progress and recognize team members who have blown past all expectations, made the most progress, or have gone way above and beyond their call of duty. This is the most perfect venue to show a junior member of the team your appreciation for their exceptional work. I would, however, limit recognizing anyone at the senior level and focus a lot more on your more junior folks. If you have done this before, you know the powerful impact this can have on the company as a whole.
Lastly, even during hard times, focus on progress and motivation. Failures and mistakes are a byproduct of progress. Stay positive, because often your people are already chewing themselves out over too much already.
Photo credit: Sheila Sund