You spend more time with employees and coworkers than you do with anyone else. Think about it: several hours of your waking time at home are spent getting ready for work or getting ready for bed. You’re awake for roughly 16 hours a day and you spend probably ten to twelve of those hours either at work, commuting, or preparing for work.
Now for the shocking part. Think about these people for a minute. How much do you know about them? For people you spend so much time with, you probably know very little. Now think about how helpful getting to know them could be. Explore the ways in which getting to know your employees could improve company efficiency and your overall business success, while keeping a happy workplace.
The Advantages of Getting to Know Your Employees
There are many measurable and subjective advantages to getting to know your employees on a deeper level. You will learn to trust them more completely and you’ll have a much better connection, which leads to a better overall working relationship. This in turn translates into better productivity and efficiency in the workplace.
Group Dynamics and Knowing the Lines
Workplaces don’t function on individuals, they function based on group dynamics. The more you and your employees know about each other, the better you’ll function together. This doesn’t mean you should go out of your way to encourage or develop workplace romances; these can create as many problems as solutions.
What it means is knowing more about your employees than a few basic facts. What do they like to do in their off-time? What are their passions? What brings them joy in life and what are their concerns? These are important things that will help you to better appreciate and understand the way your team interacts in the workplace.
How to Learn
Many people wonder how to get this information and learn about their staff. The answer is simple: you do it through basic conversation. Keep a few questions in your conversation-starting arsenal to use to break the ice and learn about what your staff are like. Besides the usual “what movies, books and music do you like?” Consider asking things like:
- If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
- If you could go out for a beer with anyone who ever lived, who would it be?
- If you could be anyone else, who would that be and why?
- What are your favorite hobbies? What were your favorite games as a kid?
- What’s the best advice you ever got?
Don’t just grill your staff for information, either. Be sure to volunteer your own answers to the questions during the conversation. Remember, “getting to know you” is a two-way street!
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