December 15, 2008

Don't let staff go to waste

As a boss you may spend more time with some staff members than others. You may know a handful of staff really well, and know little about some others. Does this mean that when opportunities come up, those you know best get first dibs? Perhaps the people that you don't know very well are actually BETTER than those you do? What if they have many skills, passions and ideas that are going to waste because you don't know they exist? If these people aren't regularly given the time of day by the boss, they may never speak up about what they'd like to do and what they are capable of. What a waste! It is important to know all staff quite well - what they like most in their job, what they like least, where they want to head in their career. You also need to know about stuff that can affect their focus - sick kids, moving house, divorce etc. If you know what is happening for them personally you can cut them a bit of slack where required. Especially since you have humans working for you not machines!

There may be some staff that come across as a little unusual or bizarre - maybe they dress differently, believe they were dropped here by aliens or only ever eat walnuts. That doesn't mean they aren't amazing at their job and should be overlooked when allocating a project or promotion. So what if they are socially awkward - they could be sales geniuses! They need just as much of your time and understanding. The better you know them, the better you can utilise them.

I read a great blog entry titled "Never judge a person by how they look" which is a similar kind of thing. Whether different in appearance or personality it doesn't matter - you need to know all your staff equally well. If you don't, make the effort and change this. It will be great for culture, performance and engagement.

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