Leadership people and touch points: This section is focused on providing leaders with a technique that you can adopt to improve your employee morale and the overall performance of your business.
This techniques is simple yet often over looked by busy leaders.
Leadership people and touch points, is about you as the leader prioritising building relationships with your staff by “taking an interest in” or “communicating with” your employees, this prioritisation will be demonstrated through your leadership behavior.
This page is just one in the “what makes a good leader” series on effective people leadership.
Definition: Leadership People and Employee Touch Points
A touch point is simply the point where a leader and an employee have face to face contact or in a virtual team where you are either on the phone or in conversation, (Email does not count – nor does messenger you have to be in meaningful two way communication.)
Ideally touch points are leader initiated.
Examples of effective daily touch points
Touch points can be divided in to two categories, non-task related and task related touch points.
Non task related touch points
Saying good morning
Asking for an opinion on a topic (work related)
Following up on something with an employee
Brief social conversation
Saying good night
Task Related Touch points
Ad hock feedback opportunity on observation of an employee doing something worth acknowledging
Asking how the day is going or how they are going today
Formal one-on-one to provide overall performance feedback and discuss the employees goals
Giving informal feedback on the previous days performance
You might be able to add some suggestions to the list.
Leadership People and Types of Employees
When developing your touch point plan you will need to ensure that you cater for each of the specific types of employees that you have, some variations to your plan will include:
New employees; When you have new employees you should increase the frequency of your touch points and include more discussion on the role the employee was hired to do, how they are fitting in and positive feedback on early progress.
Employee developing new skills; With existing employees who are developing new skills, depending on the person, you can increase your touch point frequency during the employees development phase again focusing on feedback on the employees progress and how they feel about their progress.
Employees who are meeting performance expectations; If an employee is meeting performance expectations there is no need to follow up with them on their performance, however positive feedback on yesterdays performance and ad hock compliments should be used. You should also be biased towards touch points that seek the employees input into proposed changes or asking for suggestions or advice
Under-performing employees If you have employees who are under performing it is acceptable to increase the frequency of touch points that are focused on coaching, asking how the new techniques the employee is trialling to improve performance are working and on their results. (If the employee is capable but not focused you can ask more about productivity; if they are not capable then focus on coaching and support) Shift your touch point style as soon as the employee is on track.
High performing employees; If you have high performing employees then your touch points should rarely discuss productivity (other than to provide positive feedback), rather they should be focussed on seeking the employees input as well as understanding the employees goals, aspirations and development desires.
Individual needs; Regardless of everything mentioned above vary your style in response to employee needs, some employees like to get more recognition while others prefer less frequent. (if you are an inexperienced leader then do too much and ask your employees, individually, if they would like you to change)
Leadership People Tip: The art of good leadership is to work out each persons preference for “performance related touch points” and adjust your style to suite, however instead of reducing the frequency of touch points adopt more “non task related touch points”
Another, Leadership People Tip: If you are trialling a new process, running a manual data collection exercise or have a work practice change then increase your use of touch points during the days straight after the change, this will support the employees and give you valuable feedback.
Leadership People and Touch Point Frequency
The frequency with which you have touch points will also depend on the type of work your team do and your seniority in the business, as a guide I have listed some examples, however if you are unsure you should error on the side of too many rather than too few, the following scenarios establish an absolute minimum number of touch points per day.
Machine Paced Work: If you have machines that are set at a standard speed and it is the speed of the machine that sets the pace for the employee then you don’t need to include productivity in your touch points, other than if phrased as “how is the machine running today?”; in this setting it is better to use touch points for non task related or to promote business priorities.
People Paced Work: As per types of employees. Where people set the pace of their own work, a good leader can have a significant impact on productivity by showing a balanced concern for the employee and the volume of throughput.
Front Line Leaders: A front line leader or team leader should have 3 – 6 touch points with each employee each day. (This might sound like a lot, though it does not take long to walk around and say good morning).
Middle Management: Middle managers should be in the work environment almost every day and should acknowledge every employee who is there at the time.
Senior Managers: Depending on how senior, however you will add a lot of value if you get out in the work place for a chat with the front line, the more often you do it the more value you will add.
Leadership People Tip:If you are a manager and you are going to walk through an area of your business, ask the team leader of the area if there is anything special for you to discuss with the staff, for example.
Do any of your staff have any major personal events coming up.
Has anyone done something special recently at work.
Are there any key messages you would like me to reinforce.
Leadership People Tip: Employee respond favourably to you knowing, the more senior you are the more favourable they will respond, the employee will think “I am important enough for the senior managers to talk about”
How can this vary?
Your business may vary as you may employ tertiary educated professionals or entry level skilled employees, your employees maybe new to the organisation or have 20 years in their current role, Or
You maybe new to leadership/the role/the business or you may have considerable experience.
What you will find is that regardless of the variables your employees will perform higher if you have frequent touch points with them.
Leadership People Tip: The stronger your professional relationship with your employees the higher your business will perform
Leadership People and the Dangers of Automation
If you make each employees performance available live on line for them to look up at any time then you are in danger of thinking you as their leader do not have to discus their performance as they can see it for themselves – please do not make this mistake there is a huge difference between having access to performance data and receiving personal recognition of performance.
Leadership People and the Cold Employee
This is an important leadership people tip!:
In leadership positions you will come across employee who are abrupt when you first start talking to them, don’t be put off – it is your job as the leader to build a relationship with each and every employee, not just the easy to get along with employees. With some employees it takes time and the trialling ofseveral different approaches before you are successful in building a relationship.