There’s an old adage that is used quite often. In fact you can probably find a cross-stitched pillow bearing this monicker at any craft store. It says, “People don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care.” It’s certainly sometimes true, but I never ask my mechanic how much he cares about my car, or me, before I ask him to change my oil. One of the most important pieces to the puzzle of corporate culture is is whether or not employees can consistently answer the question “Does my supervisor, or someone at work, care about me” with a yes. Employees want to work for managers and leaders who are caring.
Do you UNPLUG? Are you, as a technology leader, CIO or CTO view your employees as people or as resources? Are you caring enough to allow your employees to unplug? A good indication of how much a company or a leader cares is the balance they create, and insist on, between work and non work. I have worked places that have really struggled with this- requiring me to be available for phone calls and emails when I was on vacation, even internationally; or discouraging me from taking vacation altogether. I’ve also worked for companies which required all employees to use all their vacation days each year. As a leader, caring can simply be allowing your employees to have a life outside work that is more important than their life at work.
Do you DEVELOP? Another old anecdote has a Mid and Senior Level executive talking, the mid-level executive asking the Senior if they can send some employees to training. The senior executive replies with “what if we pay for their training, they develop the skills the need, and then they leave?” The mid-level executive ponders for a minute then retorts “what if we don’t train them, and they never leave?” One key way to be caring os to develop your people. Nothing is more caring than helping and allowing your employees to be able to take the next step in their career, even if it isn’t with your company.
Do you REWARD? Recognizing employees’ contributions is a free, and easy, way of affirming a culture of caring. Whether it is sharing positive customer experience feedback throughout the company, or regularly scheduling appreciation lunches, employers who recognize and reward the hard work their employees contribute understand the value they bring to the organization.
Caring is significantly more than remembering birthdays, and writing get well soon cards when people are sick; although these are important as well. An easy way to retain key employees is to be caring, allowing them to unplug when they need and want too, pouring resources into developing them for the next step and then rewarding employees’ success regularly.
Each Friday, for the next several weeks, a new post will be released with another key characteristic of what it takes to be successful in technology leadership. These posts are in no particular order; I’d love for you to provide feedback and let me know if you think I’m missing something, or if you’d like to see a particular trait addressed please feel free to email me, or leave a comment. I’m hoping this will be a useful dialogue about what is necessary to become a successful technology leader.