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As a building products industry recruiter, I have a pretty big stake in keeping my placements happy, engaged and motivated. I want to be a resource both candidates and clients can come back to for help and support.

I have had candidates tell me they don't feel heard once they are onboard. And, I have had managers say they aren't connecting with their new hire. The number one thing to help with any situation: communication. Without proper and timely communication, everything breaks down.

So, today I want to talk about a simple tool managers can use to stay in touch with their employees and drive success.

Why It Matters

I am sure much of your career success hinges on how well you communicate with people. It might seem overly simple – but it’s true. Effective communication ensures you’re in step with your staff, their projects, and how your organization is tracking to meet targets.

Great communicators know exactly when to take a step back and when to jump in to assist. Open communication lines are probably in the top 3 most important aspects of management.

How To Communicate Effectively

Saying communication is important is simple, having an effective communication plan, however, can get a bit sticky. Many managers only talk with their staff at meetings or if the employee comes to them. These types of relationships can feel stifling to some employees.

Also, in order to make it count, you have to be talking about the right things. If you want employees to trust you and feel like you truly understand them, there has to be some meat on the bones of your conversations.

So, you need to make sure you are communicating regularly, about the right things and that your employees know what to expect. You have to make it natural and casual. I call this the Check In.

What Is It?

It’s simply you making an effort to ensure each employee is happy, has the necessary resources and tools to perform their tasks, and are heading in the right direction to achieve company and personal goals.

Regular Check-Ins help you build rapport and ensure you can identify and solve issues before they progress.

Check Ins are brilliant in their simplicity and employees usually come to look forward to them as well. They aren't formal, they can be handled in a matter of minutes and don't require a lot of prep.

Your employees will feel supported and cared for and will be much more open to talking with you.

Three Simple Check-In Strategies for Leaders

Check Ins are meant to be short, frequent and effective. Don't force them to be a certain length, you want to make sure employees feel heard but not micro-managed. Here are a few suggestions for making Check-Ins work for your team.

Email

It isn't a stretch to say most of us fear our inbox. However, an occasional email Check In is perfectly fine. Especially if you are looking for a brief status update. Try to use the sandwich technique in every communication and cover all the same points you would in a face to face conversation.

So, say something nice, give feedback or ask a question and say something nice. “Bob, you have been working diligently on the new window project, I appreciate your progress! Can you let me know where you are right now? Do you have anything you need from me or anyone else? Are you running into any snags that I should be aware of? Thank you so much for all your hard work!”

Simple & quick and you covered all the main parts – a status update, anything they need help with and any potential areas for problems or delay.

Workstation Or Site Visit

Casually dropping by an employees' desk or office is a great way to Check In. Again, you want this to be pleasant and brief. You can follow the same format as an email. Use the sandwich technique, ask the questions you need to know and make sure they know you are available if they need something.

Coffee Catch-Up Or Lunch

Sometimes getting out of the office environment is key for a really good conversation. If you have 30 employees reporting to you, this is probably more of a sporadic event, obviously. But even one or two times a year can make a huge difference. Employees will feel more relaxed and probably will be more open.

Tips For Success

No matter how great your team is, just having the right people doesn't make for success. They need support and guidance throughout their career. Your role as a manager or leader is to provide for those needs.

Make sure you communicate how Check-Ins work when someone is hired or when you start it up. Let them know what you will be doing and what they can expect.

New employees or strenuous projects might require a weekly Check In. Once everyone is comfortable, you can ease back a bit.

Remember to keep things friendly, casual, and simple.

As you build relationships with your team, you will find that you become more aware of issues, allowing you to ensure your employees can achieve the success they're capable of.

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