As long as I have served in the capacity of CEO, I have had an “Open-Door Policy” where anyone could come into my office, at basically any time of the day, to talk to me about absolutely anything. I use the time to connect with my people and to get a sense of where things are within the organization. I offer my full, undivided attention and make sure before anyone leaves my office, they have felt heard and feel valued. While I may offer a suggestion or two, I don’t try to “fix” any issues that are brought to me. Ultimately, any concerns or topics of conversation are given back to the person without me directly intervening, unless it involves harassment, an injustice, or policy violation. It has served me well as a great opportunity to put my finger on the pulse of the organization and to know how my people are doing.
With the onset of COVID-19, I then took my Open-Door Policy to one-on-one video visits. I would always begin with asking these three things: “How are you doing? How’s everything going? How is your family?” With 2-3 calls per day, I managed to have a discussion with almost every one of my employees in 2020. I firmly believe the extra effort and time to connect with them during this difficult time helped to alleviate some stress, for us all.
Whether making yourself available to staff in your physical office or scheduling personalized video sessions, there is a key component you first need to have in place. You must develop the trust of your managers, supervisors and team leaders. It’s important that no one feels like there has been a violation of the chain of command. With confident managers, involved teams, and a CEO who dives in and connects with all staff, your organization should be in a pretty healthy state which, ultimately, is a great outcome!
Meeting people where they are and putting yourself in their positions is what will help you, as a Leader Worth Following, to build those extremely important, personal connections.