Why You Need a “Leader Surrogate”
As a leader, you’re probably aware that connecting with your employees is the best way to become a powerful and inspirational boss. This can be a difficult task, especially if you’re in charge of a large company. In the Harvard Business Review article “Make Sure Your Employees Have Good Things to Say About You Behind Your Back,” Nathan T. Washburn and Benjamin Galvin explain why many leaders go about trying to connect with their employees the wrong way.
Employees often disregard traditional attempts like emails, social media, or speeches, which can come across as bland and scripted. More than anything, employees pay attention to stories about you that they hear from their coworkers. Leverage this type of communication with “leader surrogates” – people who like and respect you, and who share positive anecdotes about you with their peers. Here are a few tips on how to create surrogates throughout your company.
Get out more. Step out of your inner circle and make an effort to connect with people at all levels of the organization. Lower-level employees make the best surrogates because unlike a mid-level manager who others may assume is trying to get ahead, comments from lower-level employees seem more genuine. Try something as simple as introducing yourself to people you see walking around the company’s campus, or participating in after-work sports teams.
Be spontaneous. Most incidents that will cause someone to become a surrogate are unpredictable events that result in a good story to tell. They aren’t likely to happen if you always stick to the same schedule. Try breaking out of your routine. Take a different route to the lunchroom, or park in a different spot for a week.
Less is more. Instead of attempting a shallow connection with all your employees, it’s better to have meaningful interactions with a few employees. Truly connecting with even one person can have a hugely positive effect on your image throughout the company. For example, instead of asking your assistant to send generic birthday cards to every employee, stop by a birthday celebration one day and join them for cake.
Link | https://hbr.org