I’ve Worked For you For Several Years But you Don’t Know Anything About My Family. That Makes You a Bad Boss!
Do you think it is important to know your team’s family? Recently I was speaking with a friend who most people would consider to have a pretty important job within an organization. With pride, she explained her role within the company and the tremendous amount of time she dedicates to her position. In addition to her job, she also has a family at home that she is just as equally proud of.
My friend shared a story with me that made her question her significance with her boss and the organization. To her dismay, it happened at a company event she attended with her husband recently. While she was off talking with clients, her boss engaged her husband and co-worker in conversation. During this conversation, her husband and co-worker quickly realized her boss had no idea who her husband was, even though he had met her husband on numerous occasions. To make matters worse, they have worked together for several years so it is not a new working relationship. Her coworker politely explained who her husband was and tried to smooth out an awkward situation.
The situation was explained to my friend by both her coworker and her husband on different occasions. She could tell they were both surprised and disappointed by the interaction. Once my friend was able to process what took place, it made her feel insignificant to her boss and to the company. Could it have been an honest mistake or could there be more meaning behind it? Is it possible he doesn’t take notice of her husband because he doesn’t see her as important, so why bother?
Hearing stories like these are so disheartening. What leaders of organizations need to remember there are families behind each employee. Families are extensions of your employees and your organization and they need to be treated respectfully. If you are not taking the time to get to know them then you are basically telling your employees there is a limit and they are not worth getting to know. You are sending the message to your employees you don’t care about them as people, just producers. Is that the message you are trying to send? It’s quite possible that is how business operated in the past but that is not the way you will maximize productivity and loyalty today.
People spend much of their time in the workplace and away from their family unit. Family is the most important dynamic of someone’s life and if you, as a leader, don’t foster that dynamic you are missing a huge opportunity. Employees will view you as insensitive, selfish, and cold. When you want to get the most out of your people you must show your softer, caring side. This doesn’t show weakness, as some would suspect. People want to work for kind, real people who they can relate with.
Employees will feel you don’t really know them if you don’t take the time to know their families. Make sure you ask once in a while how their kids are doing, know their names, what sports they play, just some basic information that allows you to engage in conversation and show your genuine side. You don’t have to know much because most people will be happy to take the conversation and proudly talk about the people they love. By inquiring, your employees will feel more connected to you. In turn, they will also want to do a better job for you. Knowing this, imagine if you were at a company event and you didn’t even recognize your right hand person’s spouse. I’m confident they would feel insulted and unappreciated.