• Patty Soltis

Leaders - Listen and Learn

Updated: Jun 2

Let this be very clear, this article is for the leaders in organizations. More than ever, you need to be connected to your teams, understand their work for their perspective and what motivates them.  

Companies have the genius idea of having Employee Appreciation Week for one week of the year to demonstrate how much their teams are valued. A lot of work goes into this and one of the companies that I worked for was so proud of this. A question continually permeated in my head about this, which was: "Why is that the employees are only appreciated for one week a year and what happened to other 51 weeks in the year?" Doing what I typically did as the consummate entrepreneur, I figured out how to show my teams that they were appreciated constantly. This took many forms and the result were simple. My stores outpaced the company in sales, operational excellence and customer service.  Our engagement scores on employee surveys were the highest in the company and my turnover was the lowest.  

Right now, more than ever, keeping your team engaged is imperative.  Many are fearful to lose their jobs, some are home schooling their children, taking care of elderly parents, watching their funds decrease in their IRA’s and 401K’s. 

Provide your team hope, inspiration and keep them motivated. Here’s how:

1.  Talk to them and LISTEN.  Ask them questions about how they are doing performing their jobs, be specific.  Ask them about the hurdles they are facing and what is working for them. Ask what motivates their client, customer, vendor or partners in the business.  

2.  Ask them what they need to work more effectively, make this specific.  Ask questions about how certain functions are going, it is ok to ask leading questions, but do not ask the question with the answer in it. Find out if they need a training or refresher course.  

3.  Find out what motivates them now.  You may have had lunch for your team, or a cereal bar or done incentives based on objectives.  Talk to them about what incentives they want now.  Don’t assume that they want something that has no impact.  You can rotate the incentives based on what they want, and different departments or divisions might want to vary.  

4.  Consider changing the review process, bonuses and objectives that were put in place at the beginning of the fiscal year.  If your company is struggling right now, maybe this time frame is put on hold and you have incentives in place for when your business is functioning again.  If your business is trying to keep up with the work flow, devise incentives that are in conjunction with the work output required.  

5.  COMMUNICATE!  COMMUNICATE!  COMMUNICATE!  Keep the communication lines open with every team member.  If you are the CEO, reach out to employees on every level.  If you have a large company, reach out to a department and speak directly with them.  

Questions must be open ended.  With these points, now you can go to your human resources team to get their input, but it is up to you, the leader to execute this. 

It is key to remember that you are not going to please everyone, but you can keep the team engaged and focused.  


I would love to hear your feedback on this and other ideas that are out there, comment or send me a message at [email protected]



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