Why you need to get to know your staff

As a leader, you can’t get to know the varied experiences, skills and talents of your team members without knowing a bit about them as people. Casual conversations help you learn about what makes them tick and discover their potential to contribute now and in the future. It helps you assign work designed to engage them, helps you to help them develop their strengths, and strengthens your working relationships.

Casual conversations among team members help them learn about each other, which builds and strengthens relationships and oils the wheels of goodwill and cooperation. It helps everyone reach common understandings and builds a strong culture.

People getting to know people doesn’t just make the world go ’round. It also makes workplaces, both actual and virtual, tick.

But where do you draw the line at casual, non-work-related conversations? You don’t want people chatting so much among themselves they don’t have time to do their work and you don’t want your chats with team members to prevent them from working either. Set the tone by keeping your chats brief, friendly and professional and make them two-way: listen as well as share.

The content — what you talk about — is important, too. Two over-arching rules apply:

  1. No gossip.
  2. Don’t get overly personal to the point of embarrassment.

Stick to those rules and keep your conversations short and sweet, and watch cooperation and morale blossom.

Discussion questions

How well do you know your team members as people? How much do they see you as a person as well as a boss?