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How to Lead a Caring Company Culture

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What would you do if a longtime employee said she wanted not only to change roles but also to work remotely from another city?


Many companies would say, "Thanks, but no thanks." When it happened at my company House of Kaizen, however, we took a different tack.

This employee loved her job, so it didn't make sense to lose her just because she wanted to be closer to family. She excelled in her department, so we let her spread her wings as an account director with an important client. Even though we didn't have precedent for remote work, we let her move to Chicago from our New York office.

The arrangement has been great. More important, though, it illustrates that our company will cultivate more dedicated employees when we know them well enough to meet their needs.

People succeed in community. Employees who are engaged and enabled at work are 50 percent more likely to outperform expectations than those who do not feel important to their co-workers or managers.

Related: To Attract and Retain Talent Focus on Your 'Why'

But it doesn't have to be dramatic displays or relocations to demonstrate your interest in the members of your team. Normal interactions go as far as the big moments.

Here's how to show you care:

Discover their why.

Ask your employees why they get out of bed every day. Some people use this questions in interviews, but it can be powerful even after employees start work.

Find out how their jobs fit into their overall lives. How will this job affect their career plans, and what can you do to help them reach their goals?

Our culture is so work-centric that many employees are afraid to admit their current companies are stepping stones to something else. Let them know that's OK. You both might discover an even greater partnership you wouldn't otherwise have considered.

Give the greatest gift.

Your team knows that time is your most valuable asset. When they request time with you, they need it. When possible, keep your door open and welcome interruptions.

Some of the best conversations aren't scheduled. If employees know they can wander in and chat with you, you'll be amazed where discussions can go. Impromptu conversations will help you discover problems and opportunities that wouldn't arise at daily meetings.

Some people, however, will never request time. Take the initiative with them. Mark your calendar to check in with them regularly, so they know your attention isn't reserved exclusively for louder employees.

Related: Are You a Manager or a Leader? Here's How to Tell the Difference.

Hold their anxieties.

Employees often have problems that need solutions, and you're the go-to person. Occasionally, though, they just need to be heard.

Sometimes people just need a sounding board, and if you've built your culture well, that can be you. Talking out loud can help them solve their problems on their own. It can also make sure they feel heard. Many workplace dramas can be put to bed when the parties feel understood.

Support mentoring.

The advice to "get a mentor" is so common it's a cliché, but that doesn't mean it's bad advice. A 2013 study found high employee-retention rates thanks to mentoring, and not just among mentees. Mentors were also about 70 percent more likely to stay with their companies after mentoring.

Create a mentoring program at your company because no matter how open your door is, workers still might feel more comfortable saying certain things to mentors rather than managers. Make that process easy, and you'll see greater employee satisfaction.

Your employees put a lot of time and energy into your company. If you make their contentment a priority, you're more likely to cultivate dependable, passionate employees for the long term.

Related: 4 Ways to Balance Company Rules With Values

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