There's no denying that employee engagement initiatives will benefit your company. After all, research from Aberdeen found businesses with such programs experience 233 percent greater customer loyalty and a 26 percent boost in annual revenue. Frequent check-ins and performance reviews are an essential part of this process.
If you're not careful, however, these review sessions can feel like talking to a wall. Your employees may not trust you to listen to them and give generic answers to your questions instead of being honest. To make your check-ins productive, focus on your body language so employees feel comfortable speaking honestly. Below are three tips to keep in mind:
"Sitting with your arms and legs unfolded boosts your memory."
1. Open Up Your Posture
When your employee walks into a room, the first thing they notice about you is your posture. The way you sit sends a signal about how approachable you are. If a person walks in for a check-in and sees you hunched over or with your arms across your chest, he or she will get the impression that you're closed off. It's unlikely that employee will be honest with you about their work.
On the other hand, sitting with your chest open and arms uncrossed portrays you as welcoming and approachable. Not only does this put your employees at ease, but this pose also helps your memory. As the American Management Association pointed out, Allan and Barbara Pease, writers of "The Definitive Book of Body Language," discovered that sitting with your arms and legs unfolded boosts your memory by 38 percent.
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2. Look and Listen
You might consider yourself a born multitasker who can hold employee check-ins while writing emails, reviewing spreadsheets and ordering lunch. Your employees are less impressed, however, especially if you work on several different things during their performance reviews. Multitasking implies you don't take their concerns and successes seriously, and your staff becomes less engaged as a result.
Instead, keep your eyes on your employee and practice active listening. You don't have to stare your employees down – you're not trying to intimidate them, after all – but you need to look in their direction and make comfortable eye contact. Check-ins are a chance for you to show your employees that you value them and their opinions.
Silence is nerve wracking, and an awkward period of no talking leaves some employees feeling flustered. When these moments happen, prompt your staff to keep speaking by asking targeted questions. Have them follow up on their previous statements, for example, or steer the conversation to a separate topic.
While your employees are talking, encourage them by chiming in without interrupting. Repeat short phrases to reinforce them in your memory and let employees know you're listening. Nod along, say "OK" and write down important statements – this is the only time when multitasking is permissible!
Performance reviews are most effective when employees are forthright, giving you real information to act on. The way you carry yourself has a huge impact on whether your staff feels they can be honest with you.
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