No matter what your job or title, as a manager, there is one thing that should always be top of mind: helping your team care. Care about the work they’re doing. Care about supporting their peers. Care about doing more. Care about making things better. Simply care.

There is a lot that goes into getting someone to deeply and genuinely care about something. It’s a  lot of work and you might be thinking, “Why is it my job to make someone else care? Shouldn’t they care on their own?” And I agree. The ideal scenario is that they care, but what they care about might not be aligned with you need them to care about.

We polled our some of our clients and people in our networks who are respected team leaders and asked them what their secret sauce is when it comes to helping inspire their teams to care. We’ve seen first hand how these leaders motivate and engage their teams through the toughest times and through complex change and are excited to share their expertise with you!

two employees who are enjoying work because they give a shit

Here’s how to help your team give a shit:

  • Aligning incentives – Everyone has something that drives them. Figure out what that is for the individual. It can be as simple as asking your team, “What motivates you?” If someone is motivated and driven by recognition, then use recognition as a motivator to help someone care about what they are doing. I see managers live by the philosophy that no news is good news. If someone lives for the recognition and reward, then in their mind, they’re doing an average job. This is demotivating and deflating for the individual. It can lead to disengagement and unfulfillment. Another way to think about incentives is by rewarding the right type of behavior. If someone goes above and beyond for their client, recognize her or give her a bonus. This positive reinforcement signals to the individual that I must keep doing this because it leads to positive outcomes.
  • Focus on the why – It’s month end and your team is falling 25% behind their target goals. On top of that, your organization is going through a huge restructuring. It is pure chaos. Your employees are trying to keep their heads above water and in their silos, churning and burning, losing steam and getting to the danger zone. I bet your team has forgotten what they’re doing or why. They’re just focused on trying to hit their numbers. This is where we’re failing the team. As leaders, you know the ultimate destination and have to remind the team every single day where you’re headed, why it matters and how they’re helping to get there. Jason Lindauer, Managing Partner at Verizon, is no stranger to change. He works tirelessly to help his team stay motivated and provide the best results to their clients, especially during times of change. He first explains that Without change, we are just waiting around to fail.”  The goal is always to make improvements in one way or another that position us to improve on performance, provide additional value, or become more financially efficient.  Either way, if we don’t make sure that our team understands the big picture, they will not be ready to embrace it.
  • Show them you care –  Tim Fagan, Chief Revenue Officer of TEGNA, tells us, “The notion of ‘giving a shit’ is a pillar of my entire management philosophy. It was Teddy Roosevelt who said, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” This couldn’t be more true, both in business as well as in your personal life.” Tim contributes their client success to the employees demonstrating that they care about the client. This is a very important note and it’s worth repeating. As a leader, you show your team that you care, and in turn, they care. They care about their clients and put their heart and soul into what they do. This is what leads to satisfied clients and an increase in revenue. To emphasize the importance of this, we asked our own CEO, Nicole Wood, who says,  “I’m an actions speak louder than words person, and I like to lead by example. If I want my team to give a shit about their work and my company, then I need to give a shit about them. Not just as employees but as people. If you support your team in their personal and professional goals, make meeting with them a priority and intentionally direct work to them that you know they will enjoy, then you show that you are listening and that you care about their happiness. As a result, they will care about yours and will demonstrate that through great work.”
  • Be positive – It’s hard to care when you are surrounded by negativity. It’s important to stay positive and to spread your infectious energy to others. Jason shares a story with us about how he uses positivity to win over clients, “I recently showed this with a few of my team members when I took them out to prospect into their new territories.  We stopped into approximately 20 locations and all I asked is that every place we walk into with just the biggest smile on our faces.  In doing so, they experienced the best outcome they had in a while. Why? Because it is hard for someone to be rude to you when you are so happy.” As Jason points out, positivity is infectious. Even through the phone, one can recognize if the other person is smiling. Being positive helps you and the team navigate through tough times and stay in the discomfort where innovation and change happen.
  • Get on the same page – When done right, this helps to eliminate a lot of miscommunication. We are referring to setting expectations, being open, vulnerable and understanding one another. We spoke with Bob Tweedie,  Director of Learning and Development at Blackstone, who did a powerful exercise with his team. “We created a simple team charter that covers our mission, vision, and values. Each of us also shared how to get the best out of each other, so we know what makes everyone tick. We each also discussed what tasks get us “in the zone.” The impact has been incredible as our team is highly engaged, we understand each other much more, we play to our strengths, and most of all, we understand our impact.” A team charter is a great way to operate from a shared language, dispel assumptions and recognize how to best leverage individuals on the team.
two white americans who give a shit about their jobs

Engaging your team is a lot of work. It’s not a one time project or something that can be done in a finite amount of time. It’s a daily practice, micro learnings that need to become habits for it to be effective and long lasting. The benefits of an engaged team impact the bottom line through increased productivity, better morale, higher retention and overall, a pleasant place to work.

What is it worth to you to have a team that cares?

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Foram Sheth

Co-Founder & Certified Coach
My name is Foram Sheth and I’m grateful to have found my calling and passion in coaching. I aspire to build a future where individuals can be empowered and learn to empower those around and love the life they live. In my spare time, I love to eat delicious food, drink delicious wine, travel the world and watch Harry Potter.