“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more,
do more and become more, you are a leader.”
― John Quincy Adams
Showing you care for your team members, both personally and professionally, is foundational to effective leadership, according to Google’s manager research study, Project Oxygen. This third trait, “Express an interest in an employee’s success and well-being,” can be the key to motivating, engaging and retaining employees.
By expressing a genuine interest in the accomplishments and health of your team members, through your words and deeds, you are showing them you value them as important members of your team and organization. In fact, the research from Project Oxygen is clear, leaders who create an inclusive team environment and show concern
for the success and well-being of their team members are 71% more likely to have an energized and engaged team.
Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, said, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
What does it mean to be a caring manager?
Here are five qualities we believe are essential characteristics of a manager who cares
about their employees’ success and well-being.
1. They communicate their feelings.
People are not mind readers. Employees need to hear you say, “I care!” It’s as simple as that. A surprising number of leaders who do care about the success of their people—never tell them. Deadlines, projects, and meetings can demand the time and attention of a leader and get in the way. Telling and showing you care can make a positive difference in your team members’ attitudes, engagement, and productivity.
2. They ask questions about the future.
Most leaders are insightful enough to know their team members want to grow in their career. By asking questions to understand where and how they want to progress, you can prepare them for the next level of growth in the organization. Offering feedback, identifying opportunities for growth and encouraging them to develop new skills through training and on-the-job learning, illustrates your commitment to their success. The bonus for you as a leader is, better trained and motivated employees with a positive vision for the future.
3. They ask meaningful questions.
If you are paying attention, you know how your team members are doing. You know their priorities and what engages and motivates them. For some team members, it may be their golf game. For others, it may be their children, parents or a loved pet. For still others, it may be cheering on their alma mater. Most people have interests attached to the “How are you?” question that will get them talking in a deeper and more connected relationship. Listening, being present and remembering what’s important to them, leaves employees with a profound sense that you care. Additionally, by encouraging their outside interests, it’s a reminder that you value them as a whole person, not just an asset or tool of the organization.
4. They ask about roadblocks.
Asking about roadblocks opens the door to frank discussions. Even though some employees know exactly what their blind spots and limitations are, they don’t have the resources to do something about them. Acting as a coach, which is the first trait of Google’s Project Oxygen, you can empower them to think creatively about how to tackle roadblocks and turn them into opportunities.
5. Keep presenting them with challenges and opportunities.
There are those rock star employees who seem to get everything done without breaking a sweat. Their reports are early, their presentations are polished and knowledgeable, and they attract positive attention from upper level leadership.
However, as much as it seems they’re doing, could they be doing even more? Are they being challenged? For some hyper-productive, talented employees, what looks like success may be only temporary until they grow bored or overconfident. Presenting them with challenges that ask them to stretch may be the answer. Acknowledge their skills and express confidence in their ability to keep growing. Help them grow by challenging and motivating them.