Believe it or not, culture has a huge impact on a company’s ability to deliver its brand promise to the marketplace. It takes the entire team to care about the company’s mission, and caring starts with top leaders showing genuine concern for employees.
One small but smart step to improving culture is getting in the habit of weekly rounds. This involves leaders scheduling time to touch base with employees, make a personal connection, find out what’s going well and determine what improvements can be made.
Rounding is more than “face time” by leaders. It’s meaningful. It’s the heart and soul of “evidence-based leadership.” In order for organizations to benefit from rounding, it must be consistent, taught to all managers and hardwired into your culture.
Don’t assume that rounding is easy. It isn’t — but, over time, you’ll see the results are worth the effort. Here are some steps to follow.
1. Tell your employees what you plan. Any time a leader changes his or her behavior, employees tend to get jumpy. Be honest. Tell them up front, “I want to be a better leader and I need your help. I want to find out what’s working well and what’s not working so well.”
2. Prepare a scouting report. Start with a basic knowledge of the current problems. For instance, if you know a department is short-staffed, put it on the report. When you start making rounds, you can talk intelligently about the issues.
3. Make a personal connection. Ask about a personal interest, a sick parent or how a child is doing in school. This is relationship building. Be genuine. It takes time to build.
4. Mention an issue that was raised. Show the employee that you’ve solved the problem or that you’re working on it.
5. Ask five key questions. Keep your tone and words as positive as possible. Just listen.
• What is working well today?
• Are there any individuals I should be recognizing?
• Do you have the tools and equipment you need to do your job?
• Is there anything we or I could do better?
• What else would you like me to know?
6. Solve problems. Don’t throw anyone under the bus. Obviously, there will be circumstances you can’t control. But people appreciate knowing that you will try. Sincere effort goes a long way.
7. Record issues that arise in a log. Tracking feedback creates structure and will help you hardwire the process into your company. Writing things down makes them official and more likely to get done.
8. Recognize and reward those identified by peers as high performers. This might mean conveying a sincere word of thanks, such as citing who complimented him or her, or making a small financial gesture or gift.
9. Repeat. Make rounds on a regular schedule, at least once a week. Don’t risk losing momentum or you’ll risk mediocre results.
The cost of improving culture by making the rounds is only an investment of your time. Try it and let me know how it impacts your culture.
Kelly Borth is the CEO and chief strategy officer of GREENCREST, a 25-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses.