Investing in Your People Is Never Risky

People sometimes wonder why Spencer Johnson and I titled our book The One Minute Manager. They can’t imagine how someone can manage in a minute. The reality is that many managers don’t take the time—even a minute—to follow the three secrets from the book: set goals with your people, catch them doing things right and praise their progress, and redirect them when they get off track.

I’ve often said “The best minute of the day is the one you invest in your people.” Why do I believe that? Because leaders who invest time in their people are building important, meaningful connections. Those connections create inspired people and inspired leaders who work together to achieve great results and who benefit from great relationships. It’s an investment that’s no risk, all reward!

Part of The One Minute Manager’s significance is how the book helps leaders understand that the best ways to serve your people don’t have to involve rehearsed conversations, lengthy meetings, or stressful performance reviews. Sometimes an act as simple as listening to a person’s idea, talking about their weekend, or sharing a laugh with them can be the most memorable moment of their day.

Investing in your people is about time spent focusing on them, not on yourself. Leadership is not about you; it’s about the people you are trying to influence. The more you know about each of your direct reports, the better you’ll be able to help them achieve their goals. For example, taking time to work side by side with a direct report to determine their development level on a task lets them know you are interested in meeting them where they are. And it allows you to use the right leadership style, with the right amount of direction and support, to help that person get to the next level.

Here’s another way you can spend a minimum amount of time and build a major connection: schedule one-on-one meetings with each of your people where they set the agenda. These meetings don’t use up a lot of work time—just 20 to 30 minutes every other week. There’s no better way to show someone you care about them as a person than to set aside time to chat about anything they wish. It’s a great opportunity for both of you to speak openly without interference or judgment. These short meetings lead to trusting relationships with feelings of respect, loyalty, and accountability on both sides.

Also, don’t forget to take time to celebrate people’s talents, skills, and successes. Celebrating doesn’t require a big, expensive party. It can be as simple as taking a person aside (or sending them a private chat message) to praise them for their input at a meeting. It can be as quiet as sending someone a gift card to acknowledge their going above and beyond on a project. Or it can be as grand as announcing to everyone they can stop working two hours early on a Friday afternoon. Celebration in any form lets people know they are doing things right, which builds morale and camaraderie. And it’s fun!

Making your team members feel special doesn’t need to be time consuming. Invest a few moments now and then to let people know you’re glad they’re on your team, you appreciate their contributions, and you enjoy helping them win. Take time to build those meaningful connections. It’s the best investment you’ll ever make.  

This blog was based on Simple Truth #8 in Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust, available now at your favorite bookstore. To download an eBook summary of the book, please go here.

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