Activating a Sense of Welcome
- Reduce tension early. Socially engage and personally connect with people on your teams. Connect them to each other as well as your brand. Take time to set up one-on-one meetings with each person. At least once a week, schedule team meetings that you intentionally prepare with a clearly defined purpose, process, and potential payoff. This will help your team members relax. When they relax, you’ll start getting their best performance. That’s your job.
- Eliminate their worries by setting clear expectations with honesty and transparency. The more you set the record straight, the fewer doubts, worries, and concerns they’ll have, leaving more time and energy for your team to deliver at peak levels.
- Acknowledge people, early and often. Catch them “doing it right,” and tell the rest of the team what a great job they did. Tell upper management when you get a chance and let them know you went to bat for them. Blog about it, or even share a story about it on social media.
- Accept yourself. Before you can accept others for who they are, you must accept yourself for who you are. Teams and employees will follow your lead, and they’ll begin accepting themselves the more they see you doing the same.
- Accept others. Be inclusive. Despite their quirks, habits, and hang-ups, a leader who leads with hospitality spends time seeking to understand everyone. They look for ways to leverage the value each person brings to the table. Meet people where they are, accepting them for who they are rather than for their accomplishments. When they know you accept them for them, they’ll slowly but surely feel more welcome with you, on your team, and most importantly, in their own skin. That’s when they’ll lean in, step up, and deliver excellent effort and results for you.
- Accept organizational realities. Determine what you can control versus what you cannot. Separate issues stemming from inside your team or organization versus those coming from outside influences. Be diligent. Ask questions. Seek to understand, and soon, you’ll accept organizational realities that, in turn, help you decide if some issues are truly hills worth dying on.
- Seek to understand. Carve out and plan quality time with each person on your team. Chances are, few leaders have done this. When they realize you intentionally blocked out time for them, you’ll enjoy new realms of trust and credibility. Pull; don’t push. Ask purposeful questions with genuine interest to understand situations, sentiments, and challenges. Focus on seeking to understand versus driving home your points. Only then will you see and feel communication breakthroughs with individuals and the team as a group.
- Share your understanding. You’re human, not superhuman. So connect with people on a human level, and you’ll take your team to the next level. Simply share how much you do understand how they feel, what’s in their way, where they want to go in their lives and careers, and why they do what they do or believe what they believe.
- Show that you understand. Show them; don’t tell them. You’ve heard the cliché, “Talk is cheap.” Not only has your team heard it, but also they’ve experienced it firsthand, from past leaders. They will know you’re different when you put empathy and understanding into action with the decisions you make and changes you implement. Adapt or die. Nothing will demoralize a team more than a leader who is adamant about “doing it the way we’ve always done it.” Conversely, few actions will lift them up, give them hope, and ignite productivity more than a dynamic, human leader who’s not afraid to adjust and innovate to new ways of working.
- Listen to your intuition, your team, your leaders, and especially your customers. When leaders take time to listen, everyone will be well served.
- Educate people along the way. Take the time to pause and teach, coach, and offer feedback, especially recognition. When leaders take advantage of teachable moments today, they pass along nuggets and pearls of wisdom that serve people for a lifetime.
- Act. Live out the concept of active accountability, which is simply taking personal accountability and responsibility for staying active and accountable to your team’s needs. When you’re active and accountable, your team will be active and accountable.
- Make sure people feel comfortable coming to work. Build community. Few leaders and even fewer organizations activate a true sense of community all of us are literally wired to crave. Relationships will ultimately expedite your results. Be human and be vulnerable enough to connect on a human level, and then just watch your team soar.
- Make sure people feel comfortable asking questions. Be curious and give your team permission to be even more curious. Foster a never-ending thirst for knowledge, intel, insight, feedback, and opportunities for your organization to grow. Today’s best practices may not be enough to sustain or propel your team forward tomorrow. A comfortable culture of curiosity and openness keeps everyone engaged and keeps you competitive.
- Help people get comfortable getting uncomfortable. Your role, as a leader, whether at home, in your community, or at work, is to help people become the best versions of themselves. That means your leadership purpose is to help people grow by stepping outside their comfort zones. The only way people grow, improve, and truly become better is to step outside their comfort zones. When you realize the task, the job, the situation, or even the season is becoming more difficult, you begin to discover just how good, capable, committed, and talented you are. Your team will experience the same. People want to improve, but they need an encourager, a champion, and leader to give them a nudge. That’s you.
- Give your time. Set aside time for each person on your team. Plan for it and give some time for the benefit of others. It will be noticed, appreciated, and worth it for both you and for them. Take thirty minutes each day to focus on one person on your team. Explore what you can do to help them, either personally or professionally. Pick a different person each day for a week or a month or more until you’ve made it through your entire roster of team members. Then go back to the beginning of the list and repeat.
- Give your talent. Whatever is your greatest strength, your best talent, and “that awesome thing” people say you do better than anyone else, zero in on it and flat out give it away to people. I’m not saying work for free. I’m simply recommending to freely give of yourself to others, especially your natural strengths and talent. You’re gifted in some way. To be a great leader, give your gifts to those you lead, and you’ll soon see them do the same to your guests, customers, clients, and especially to their teammates.
- Give your heart. Perhaps the kindest, most welcomed, and most comforting thing about any human being is when we know they care. When you give your heart to people on your team, you’ll inspire them to perform at their best and give more of what makes them great as well. Kindness is contagious. It’s worth spreading at work, at home, and in our communities.
- Ask for perspective and insight. You hired your employees for a reason. They’re smart and capable, with ideas of their own. You’ll make them feel important when you invite them to share their own perspectives and insights, and you’ll learn some new things in the process. Remember: all of us are smarter than any one of us. It doesn’t matter where ideas come from; it just matters that they’re great ideas.
- Trust people before you know you can. There will never be a perfect time or a perfect moment to offi cially hand over the reins or responsibility. On the other hand, most people will rise to the challenge when someone gives them the opportunity. The challenge for you, as a leader, isn’t whether or not they’re ready. Instead, are you ready to provide them with an opportunity to spread their wings and soar?
- Delegate and separate. Once you give them the expectations, let it go, like Elsa in Frozen. When they know they’ve been left alone to complete their tasks, duties, or mission, you’ll have elevated their effort, their conscientiousness, and their performance.
It’s amazing what a little delegation will do for your own mindset and stamina as a leader, not to mention the confidence boost it gives your team when you show them just how much you trust and value their ability to take on more responsibility and run with it.