Kindness is another one of those words that has a variety of definitions and usually is associated with a feeling towards the recipient of our kindness. However, kindness is much more about how we act towards another than how we feel and a concrete act that embodies kindness is showing attention.
Science proves again and again that attention is one of the most basic of human needs and serving this need can have a powerful impact on a person’s productivity and vitality.
Studies show children who have not had ample physical and emotional attention are at higher risk for behavioral, emotional and social problems as they grow up.
In the workplace, attention also has a powerful impact. In the study that resulted in the term “Hawthorne Effect” in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, simply changing different work conditions (light, work hours, rest breaks, etc…) resulted in the highest levels of productivity and lowered absenteeism at the factory.
The fact that someone actually cared about their workplace and not the changes themselves is what created the improvements.
Giving attention creates an engaged state in the brains of team members and employees that can result in an increase in creativity, more collaboration and greater accuracy.
What can “giving attention” look like in your leadership? Here are 10 places to start right away.
- Listen – Spend time simply listening to one your team members with the intent to only listen and not to speak or deliver some information.
- Appreciate – Say “thank you” for something that was done and be specific about the person, behavior and/or accomplishment
- Ask a question – at a meeting, ask an open ended question about something you are sincerely interested in. If you’re not particularly interested in the topic, fake it and ask a question anyway without an agenda or point that you wish to make
- Make a request – Request to see the work product of one of your team members or employees. Convey your genuine interest in seeing what they are up to.
- Praise – Acknowledge a person or team for a job well done and be specific about what you’re praising.
- Shake a hand – When greeting someone for the first time in a day, shake their hand. This professional form of human touch is a powerful way to give attention
- Say good morning – As you pass people in the hall, say hello. It’s simple but is shockingly not done in many workplaces.
- Have lunch with the team – Bring your lunch to work and sit with someone or a group to share the lunch hour
- Change things up – Identify small changes to the work environment or schedule that you think may help the team. Whether the change helps or not, the message will be that you care about the team’s environment.
- Repeat – Repeat the previous nine over and over and over again