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100 leaders were asked about their #1 “little thing”. Here’s what they said:

Leadership Development
Reading Time: 19 minutes

As leaders, whether it’s from meetings, the constant buzzing of notifications, or our dreaded inboxes, we’re hit everyday with an avalanche of activity. Everything seems to happen at once. And so, with these mounting challenges, it makes sense that leadership development initiatives are put on the back burner. An understandable, but ultimately short sighted, approach. Rather, what’s needed is a creative new approach to leadership development that focuses on the “little things” that elevate human relationships.

Wanted: new leadership strategies for a new world of work

As leaders continue to take more and more onto their plates in a competitive and accelerating marketplace, they’re finding themselves in a perpetual game of catch up. They’re taking on big issues from industry disruption to an increasingly tight labor market.  This is why it’s the leaders who focus on elevating human relationships that will continue to lead their organizations to success.

An organization’s middle managers ultimately act as the nexus between top level directives and the ground floor operations. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and the relationships between middle management and their direct reports are the often forgotten links. It’s not enough for executives to have extensive leadership training — the people leading the daily charge need just as much. The data backs this up. According to Gallup, 70% of employee engagement is attributable to their direct report manager.

Essential, but ignored

To maximize the people power within organizations, relationships must be elevated throughout. Unfortunately, this is rarely done.  When they promote people to management positions they tend to offer more technical training — rather than addressing the necessary soft skills to lead teams. They take people with technical proficiency and put them in leadership roles without properly preparing them to establish new relationships.

The lack of support for manager-employee relationships isn’t a failure of leadership, but of the prevailing strategies. Top organizational leadership of course wants to cultivate the best people leaders, but they don’t always know where to invest time and energy. For the most part, leadership programs follow the same format and have a similar trajectory of impact on behavior. You have a week or so of workshops, maybe a motivational speaker here and there, a short burst of inspiration, and then it’s back to the daily grind and same old habits.

Leveraging the “little things”

Given the current landscape of middle management development, what’s someone in charge of talent development to do? There are many big questions to consider, areas of training to address, competing initiatives, and short attention spans resulting from stress coming from above and below. But through it all, it comes down to a question of focus: how should middle managers allocate their time and energy to elevate relationships while still taking on the big things in their world?

Through our research and interviewing leaders at progressive organizations we’ve discovered that there are better strategies than the boom and bust approach to leadership development. We’ve come to see that the best leaders don’t simply rely on grand gestures, but instead focus on strategic ‘little things’ that make the biggest difference. Digging into psychology and management research, we’ve found the power of little things demonstrated across studies on recognition, gratitude, acts of kindness, and servant leadership behavior.

To further explain what we mean by the “little things” think of all of the little choices you make in a day’s interactions. Now reflect on all the small choice points that aren’t obvious since they’re usually made automatically. These micro-moments represent the myriad instance in the course of the day where we engage with others. Every moment can become a moment of truth and an opportunity to elevate or diminish various aspects of the relationship  like trust, confidence, support, and respect.

Instead of relying solely on leadership workshops, as helpful as they may be in the short term, some companies are seeking to address leadership development at the level of individual relationships. This involves learning the right strategic behaviors to perform at the right time. These are simple daily actions geared towards desired outcomes. The result is a sustainable long term leadership development strategy that can be brought to scale for organizations of any size.

At ProHabits, we believe in the little things so much that we built a technology platform to inspire them across groups of leaders and entire organizations. Learn more about our creation HERE.

100 leaders spoke — their message is loud and clear

After noticing the power that leveraging the little things can have, we decided to ask 100 people leaders, “What is the most important LITTLE THING that managers can do to elevate their relationship with their individual contributors?” Across these responses, from people leaders throughout a variety of industries, a clear pattern emerged. Almost all responses had to do with appealing to the humanity of the people they are leading — the majority of the difference was in how to do it.

The little thing that was mentioned most — having genuine conversations with those you lead.

After speaking to these 100 people leaders we found that the most consistent response was to have meaningful conversations with their direct reports. Instead of suggesting that it’s just another thing to do during the day, these leaders find that it’s an absolutely necessary aspect of their leadership strategy. Because, as Jennifer Taylor from KeHE Distributors eloquently put it,

“We are a society that is starved for connectedness, yet we are at our best when the people around us lead with their humanity.”

Beyond facilitating authentic conversations with their teams, the following  strategies were commonly mentioned as a way to elevate human connections.

Recognition for hard work and successes.

It’s not surprising that recognition popped up time and again. People work hard and want their hard work and sacrifices to be acknowledged. This is why Linda Donaho of Orthofix told us that the most important ‘little thing’ is, “Meaningful recognition – see what people do, express what they do back to them and how it positively impacts self or others, thank them, do OFTEN!!!”

Taking a personal interest in the lives of their team members.

We spend more time with our coworkers than with our own families and yet we barely know the first thing about them. Many of the leaders we spoke to showed us it doesn’t have to be this way.  For instance, Lori Connors of Textron Systems told us, “The most important “little thing” that managers can do is to care about their employees. If you genuinely care about your direct reports, you’re more likely to make time to listen to their concerns, questions, career aspirations as well as get to know about their lives outside of work.”

Giving and receiving feedback in an open and honest way.

When you work without feedback you feel like you’re stumbling in the dark. People need to know when they’re doing well and where they could put effort into improving. But also, leaders forget that they need feedback as well and should accept feedback from their teams with gratitude. We found this expressed by Kathy Smith-Willman of Bazaarvoice who believes it is vital to “Give open, honest, and timely/regular feedback.”

Showing confidence and care for those they lead.

We often don’t know what we’re capable of and assume we can achieve only what we’ve achieved before. Leaders see people for their potential, but it’s worthless if that confidence isn’t expressed. Throughout the responses, we found that these leaders focused heavily on supporting the personal growth of those they lead and inspiring in them the confidence to go further. One example of this came from  Charissa Wagner of Taylor Morrison who told us to “believe in them more than they believe in themselves.”

Simple strategies are simply the best

When we set out to find the little things that leaders use, we didn’t know what to expect. Perhaps they would be small technical points, or maybe they wouldn’t think simple strategies work at all. But as it turns out, you don’t need an elaborate plot to make genuine connections with your team. You just need to be there and make yourself authentically available. We saw time and again leaders expressing that “the little thing is actually a big thing.”

In their own words

As a way to provide recognition and thanks for the awesome leaders that contributed to our research, we’ve provided the responses we’ve received from the leaders we interviewed below. Keep in mind each provided their own unique voice and approach. To come to our conclusion, we’ve combed through these responses to distill their essence.

Responses:

“It starts with on boarding.  Day one is CRITICAL. Being ready for your new hire (name tag, uniform, keys, etc.) shows them you care.

Ensure the team is aware that they are starting (use their name).  Greet upon arrival, take them to lunch, it’s all about setting the culture. ”

                                                                         — Todd McDonald, Arbor Lodging Management

“One thing that I have found to be particularly important to growing relationships with teams is getting to understand their individual values.  Sometimes we can do things as structured as a values exercise where we all sort through them and put them out on the table or something as subtle as paying attention and asking questions.  I had an employee who was very involved in his daughter’s gymnastics program. Taking 5 minutes to ask how those things were going and even showing up to an event built a relationship that allowed him to feel like what was important to him also mattered to me.  It came back in spades when I needed a favor or some extra effort for a project.”

Gregory Gills JD, Procore Technologies

“The most important ‘little thing’ to me, is actually a very big thing:  Show that you care, by understanding what’s most important to each person’s experience at work.

My MicroAction is asking people ‘how are you doing today’ and listening to their response – yields insight into what’s going on in their life.”

                                                                          — Scott Morgan, SAS

“Listen.”

Carolyn Rooney, The Madison Square Garden Company

“What a great topic and question.  3 little things that will elevate a relationship:  Empathy, Empathy, and Empathy. The only cost is the effort toward sincere human-ing.  We are a society that is starved for connectedness, yet we are at our best when the people around us lead with their humanity.  Build your ability to empathize through deliberate, small acts of human-ing. Say ‘good morning’ with eye contact and a smile every day.  Spend 2-3 minutes stopping by to ask a person about their pet or hobby or family. We all know that we are all busy. For this reason, small moments spent human-ing carries far more weight than we realize.”

                                                                           — Jennifer Taylor, KeHE Distributors

“Meaningful recognition – see what people do, express what they do back to them and how it positively impacts self or others, thank them, do OFTEN!!!”

 

                                                                            — Linda Donaho, Orthofix

“Take the time to listen to their employees’ input. Show that you value what they have to say and consider the solutions they may bring.  And if you implement it, be sure to give them the credit they deserve.”

                                                                           — Chuck (Charles) Gamble, IST Management

“Make an impact and pick up the phone. In a virtual world, we still need to connect. Truly connect.  So many people are afraid of verbal contact for fear of rejection, interrupting, or being told a verbal ‘no.’ Many nuances are lost with virtual contact; tone, urgency, mood, pace — the list goes on.  I find that many matters can be solved simply by making a quick phone call, or FaceTime to my team members. While there is a use for text, email, and instant chats, it also can be far less impactful.”

Matt Peebles, Healthcare Solutions Team

“Empower them by asking how they will handle a project or task. Then, listen with an open mind to their ideas. You never know, they might come up with something brilliant!”

                                                           — Michelle Braden, WEX, inc

“[That] employees know exactly what is expected of them for performance and behaviors.”

Mike Davis, TrialCard

“The most important thing that managers can do to elevate their relationship with individual contributors is to listen. Listen to what individual contributors say.  Hear them out. […] Just because you are the manager, doesn’t mean you know it all. As a manager, listening, you might learn something innovative. […] Listening can sometimes be the difference between a manager and a leader.”

Cari Walquist, Access Community Health Network

“Remember… first we are human.”

                             — Beth Zadik, Spencer Stuart

“I give my direct reports a card and their favorite candy for their birthday.”

  — Manning Field, Acorns

“Getting to know their people by asking them questions about themselves, their families, their perspective. Then remembering and acting in ways that show they heard them. Following up with questions about life events, assigning them tasks related to what they are good at, introducing them to new people based on what they want to do next or providing opportunities based on those desires.”

                                                                                  — Dave Bunch, USPI, INC.

“Know your associates’ service anniversary dates. Send them an email on their anniversary date to thank them for their service to the company or department. It’s nice to be remembered for years of service.”

                                                                                  — Molly Baerson, Evolent Health

“A little thing managers can do is involve the employee, invite them into the ‘inner circle,’ give them a glimpse of what it’s like at the ‘next level.’”

                                                                  — Luz Lozano, Albéa Group

 

“Take a personal interest in each individual and support their strengths and personal and professional growth objectives.”

                    — Ginny Zarras, Endeavor Air

“The most important ‘little thing’ that managers can do is to care about their employees. If you genuinely care about your direct reports, you’re more likely to make time to listen to their concerns, questions, career aspirations as well as get to know about their lives outside of work. Managers who care about their direct reports focus on developing their employees and providing feedback to help them grow professionally. Caring for and managing the whole person will improve performance and engagement.”

 

                                                                               — Lori Connors, Textron Systems

“Begin every day by asking yourself how you can support THEM.”

                                                                               — Michael Rupchock, LCI

“Recognition is critical for relationships with individual contributors.  Recognize people for their contributions, ideas, contributions and successes. Thank yous and words of praise for a specific good job done, go a long way to motivate employees and promote engagement.  I once worked for a manager who I respected so much, I would have worked for free for her (if I could afford to) if I could earn her praise and recognition for my good work. It is easy to forget to recognize the small contributions, but they matter to individuals, and can make a big impact.”

                                                                               — Sally Searby, Renaissance Learning

“Say ‘thank you’… We all want to be appreciated for our efforts, but it’s the one thing many managers overlook and underestimate the impact of.  A sincere thank you for a job well-done shows appreciation, increases engagement, and is linked to retention. It’s truly a little thing and is most important.”

                                                                              — Jennifer Lea Smigelski, Thai Union Group PCL

“The most important single thing a manager can do: Listen more, talk less. The act of listening embodies so many things – trust, respect, involvement, engagement, humility, and servant leadership.”

  — Brian O’Neill, Aimco Apartment Homes

“Managers need to create the conditions for people to contribute, engage and feel valued.  Creating these conditions helps people to thrive, do their best work and show up as their best self.  The biggest mistake we make as managers is to assume that people work their best in the same way we do.    Ask this question… What do you need from me to help make you thrive? When we understand how people thrive, we can support them by creating an ecosystem that supports it.”

                                                                              — Sinéad A. Condon, Guidewire

“Show appreciation for your colleague by celebrating their wins and successes. Thank them for the work they do. Their success is your success.”

                                                                            — Kimberly Wright, Huntington National Bank

“Really see your employees as individuals. Pay attention to who they are and what they care about….and tie personal communications, feedback and occasional little gifts to that insight. The key is to show your employees you see and appreciate them for who they are….for example, I gave an employee a day of bereavement leave when her cat died. I supported another employee who had an idea to sponsor a table where people could make homemade valentines on Valentine’s Day. Sometimes it’s about finding ways to let employees showcase their non-professional talents, such as asking someone to “throw down a song” before they leave for the day.”

                                                                        — Kathy O’Driscoll, Snowflake

“Remember that nobody cares how much you know, but everybody knows how much you care.”

                                                                        — Tammy Calhoun, Firebirds Woodfired Grill

“Say thank you, give recognition, celebrate successes and make work fun!”

                                                                       — Allyson Hernandez, Bohler Engineering

“Say « good morning (name of the individual) » every day.”

                                                                        — Valérie Leyldé, bioMérieux

“Delegation is an outdated process. A manager’s job is to make sure everyone has the biggest job possible. How big? Enough so that the employee is stretched, made a bit nervous, and requires regular updates with their manager on the most complex parts of their jobs.”

                                                                        — Michael Molinaro, New York Life Insurance Company

“I have always heard that children spell love this way: t-i-m-e. I believe it is the same with the people we are blessed to coach and mentor in their careers. You must make the time to listen to what they have to say vs. feeling like you have so much to tell them. You will learn so much from hearing their questions and ideas – and give them what they need all in the same moment of well spent time.”

                                                                         — Sandy (Coffey) Morgart Mazoway, Lowe’s Companies, Inc.

“Care.”

                                                                       — Elizabeth Pierce, Eventbrite

“When managing performance issues be very authentic and honest with yourself and your direct report about the degree that you as the manager are contributing to the problem. It is rare that only the employee has to make a change in order to get a positive outcome. It is critical that you give an employee an opportunity to express their point of view and treat it seriously. Too often managers ask employees for their POV, but then when they hear something they don’t like decide the employee is in denial, is not taking responsibility, is unwilling to change, is confrontational, doesn’t listen, etc. when in fact the employee has a legitimate POV about what the manager could do differently as well.  Have you given clear direction? Did you delay raising the issue to avoid a conflict? Are you truly listening to the employees’s point of view? Are you willing to take some responsibility for part of the issue? If you truly reflect on your part in the issue and discuss it openly you won’t lose control of the conversation and you will go a long way toward cementing an effective working relationship with your direct report.”

                                                                               — John Moxley, Vi Living

“Be present.  (Be physically present in the office.)

Be responsive (Answer emails, slack messages, etc. from your team within 24 hrs or less… even if this is a quick “I saw your note and I won’t be able to get to you until XYZ resolves on Thursday”)

Say thank you.  Regularly. And be thoughtful about what you thank people for… the things you celebrate define the culture.  If you only thank people for individual accomplishments, you will build a team culture around that. Consider thanking people for going out of their way to help someone else on the team, for taking a risk and pushing forward an innovative idea, for challenging assumptions, for learning something new…

Ask about life outside the office (and be interested in the answer… or at least try to be.  Write down notes about kids names if you need to. Care about people as a complete human, outside the office, and let people know you care.)

There are lots of “big” things as well… but the small things do sometimes make all the difference.”

                                                                                — Taylor Kinney, Noodle.ai

“Ask open questions without judgement. Be truly interested to learn what they are thinking.”

                                                                               — Chris Hansen, St. Moritz Security Services

“One of the most important little things a manager can do to elevate the relationship with their team members is get to know their likes and dislikes so when you show appreciation, you can personalize it.  I believe everyone appreciates being told “thank you” or “good job.” However, when you have that little bit of additional information, you can show appreciation on a deeper, more genuine level. What’s their favorite snack or soda?  How do they like to receive appreciation? What’s really important to them? Taking that extra step to learn about your team members on a deeper level will carry you a long way.”

                                                                               — William “Skip” Eller, Manhattan Construction Company

“I would say two things: Express gratitude for hard work; Share credit for accomplishments.”

                                                                               — Mary Beth (Tolly) Schroeder, Broadridge

“ In my opinion, the most important LITTLE THING that managers can do is to DEMONSTRATE RESPECT THROUGH SPEECH AND ACTION for their employees. This is especially important in our multi-generational workforce, where the majority of the US workforce are Millennials (born between 1980-2001). Millennials are now managing Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers. If the Millennial leaders are going to be truly effective in their roles, they need to be respectful of the experience and knowledge their more “tenured” employees bring to the table. Without respect (and it goes both ways), the relationship between a manager and their individual contributors will not be based upon a firm foundation.”

                                                                               — Leslie L. Nye, Prometric

“Take a sincere interest in the people you work with.  Get to know your staff individually on a professional and personal level.  Find out (without actually stalking them) what they like to do outside of work, hobbies they have, about their family, where they went to school, what kinds of movies they like or books they read, and favorite foods/drinks, to name a few.  Let them know you personally as well.

Coach and mentor without being asked.  When you see potential, help develop it and encourage growth (even if it means growing them out of your department).”

                                                                               — John Konselman, VHB

“I think the bottom line is recognizing that everyone, no matter what the role, has the ability to contribute to the success of a business and each team member can make a difference.  It does not matter what the role – if you hired them it was with a purpose and that purpose is important.

Then you must give each person the recognition and thanks they deserve for the work they do and show your appreciation to your team.  Money is not everything – giving people opportunity, respect, recognition – it is all key to a happy employee. Simply saying thank you – every day if possible – is important.

Managers need to make/find time for this. The days of handing out a paycheck and shaking hands in thanks for a week’s work are long over.  But the need to say thank you, good job, you make a difference are not.”

                                                                              — Marian Barbieri, New Castle Hotels & Resorts

“Regularly ask for their opinions on what is working well and what ideas they have for improvement.  If you can, act on the improvement suggestions quickly. If you can consider doing it in the future, say so and follow up. Involve them in scheduling. If you can’t put it on a to do list, then make it a learning moment, schedule private time to discuss the barriers or complications that make the suggestion impractical and suggest other solutions that better align with corporate goals. It lets them know you value their opinions and ideas”

                                                                                — Bonnie Culp, Spok, Inc.

“Meet with your employees at least once a week to check in on expectations and priorities.”

                                                                                — Leticia T. Knowles, Progressive Leasing

“Always carve out time to ask “What’s new in your World?” It opens it up for career and personal discussion. Knowing what’s going on in your people’s lives, not only shows them you care, but put things into perspective for you as a manager. You know whether they are overloaded with work, excited for a big event, or interested in working on a new project.”

                                                                              — Sally Bartas, Stanley Black & Decker, Inc.

“Acknowledge the good things people do so when you make adjustments people don’t feel like the only time you see them or have time for them is when they need correcting.”

                                                                              — Bruce Wilkinson, Allan Myers

“Truly SEE your direct reports. Don’t just go through the motions of asking how their weekend was. Take a few moments to pause and be genuinely interested in how they are doing. We all want to be seen, and it can make all the difference to the trust between you and your reports.”

                                                                             — Chelsea Flaming, Sage Hospitality

“Spend uninterrupted time with your people at minimum monthly discussing what is on their mind personally and professionally. It is simple and more times than not, it will lead to topics that the leader would want to discuss.”

                                                                               — Jonathan Moss, Sprint

“Tell them the truth, even when it’s painful. Especially when it’s painful. Look them in the eye and tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.”

                                                                               — Janice Krassowski-Quintana, J. Knipper & Company

“Relationships can elevate when people feel valued. If a manager can adopt a coaching mindset, curiosity will lead to rich valued authentic discussions with their employees.”

                                                                                — Margaret Morris, Flex

“Help them to understand themselves – which all generations of time have known as the beginning of wisdom.”

                                                                                 — John Grover, CEVA Logistics

“I would say believe in them more than they believe in themselves.”

                                                                                — Charissa Wagner, Taylor Morrison

“There are more emotions involved with work than organizations care to admit.  Therefore, for me, I try to say or do something every day to make my employees feel good – I want them to go home on an emotional high.  That means understanding their values and what’s important to them, and saying or doing something that makes them feel good about who they are, what they are doing, what they’ve produced, etc.  Even constructive feedback can be provided in a way that shows how much I care about their success and their development. There is an important caveat to this. Whatever I say or do, must be genuine.  I really need to feel good about what I’m sharing – it’s not just talk.”

                                                                               — Ira Dym, Cushman & Wakefield

“I think the most important ‘little thing’ that a manager can do is ask more questions and listen to hear their answers.”

                                                                               — Maura Horn, CoorsTek

“Praise them for what they do right every day. Talk to them about how they can improve every week.  Be fair, honest, open, and balanced in every interaction.”

                                                                               — Brian Steinberg, Kemper

“My most important little thing is that managers approach driving performance & accountability in a way that feels to the individual contributor as though they are working to solve the problem together.  So that translates into coaching in a collaborative way—which means it isn’t about firing questions off so it feels like an inquisition. The art is making it conversational and exploratory—and doing it in a way that provides support while enabling their continued ownership of the task, issue, etc.”

                                                                            — Sandra (Fodrowski) Stellhorn, Integra LifeSciences

“Be Present! – A leader should never be too busy to connect with their team. Being present means more than just face time. Interactions with their employees should be distraction free. They should be aware enough to catch the subtle clues that may indicate an employee is struggling or losing engagement.

It’s Not About You – The role of a leader is truly about taking care of people in order to get the best from them. You need to instill trust in others and guide them toward success. Make your goals THEIR goals so they are excited to do great things. Everyone wins with a servant leader mindset.”

                                                                            — Angela Moustis, DSC Logistics

“Give open, honest and timely/regular feedback.”

                                                                             — Kathy Smith-Willman, Bazaarvoice

“They should evaluate their servant leadership practices. A servant leader shares their position power, by consciously placing the needs of their direct reports first. Additionally, servant leaders are focused on developing their direct reports so that they perform as highly as possible.”

                                                                              — Karrie Robinson, Harland Clarke

“Check-in with them on a frequent and consistent basis to get to know them and their strengths, what their priorities are and what help they need from you to achieve your aligned goals.  I’ve learned through Marcus Buckingham that these frequent forward-focused conversations make the relationship and trust grow stronger, as does engagement.”

                                                                                    — Nadine Frank, Keysight Technologies

“Ask their opinion.”

                                                                                 — Amy DiBartola, Xanterra Travel Collection

“Every day look for and acknowledge something that your employee is doing right in their job and encourage them to continue doing it, to excel at it! Their success is the organizations success!”

                                                                                 — Jeff Chartier, SIG SAUER, Inc.

“Have regular 1-on-1s during which you discuss not only the status of their work but also their developmental goals and how you can help them achieve their goals.”

                                                                                   — Anthony Stramanino, ADT

“Valuing your team members in the little things is critically important.  One of the simplest and most profound, demonstrating the value of your team member, is to move out away from your computer, put your phone down, minimize immediate distractions and give your undivided attention by looking them in the eyes and actually listening.  Their value to you is demonstrated by your actions of aligning your two most precious commodities, your time and your energy, to focus solely and clearly on them.”

                                                                                   — Michael Garty, Lippert Components, Inc.

“I think one of the most important little things a supervisor can do to elevate relationships, is to be willing to work at a relationship even if at the time you might not think it is a relationship you should invest in or think you can save.  They say that the hardest part of being a manager is managing the people and the personalities. However, if you are willing to open yourself up, and realize that some relationships require a bit of work, the dividends will pay off big time when you put forth the effort.”

                                                                                     — Topher Olsen, Alliance Residential Company

“Walk the floor, stop and listen. Say hello to people and check how things are (professional and personal life, if appropriate). This way you get to know your people, what’s important to them, what motivates them, etc.”

        — Karin Knecht, Livingston International

“[Ask] How is your day going, or how did your day go today? That will allow you to listen and then respond. Employees value that you care on how their days go. By listening, you can also help prep them for the next day.”

       — Mark Krivoruchka, Mobile Mini Solutions

“See an employee for who they are, not for who the manager wants them to be. This little piece of connection goes a long way in a relationship and can be a big building block for trust, inspiration, motivation and personal and professional growth for both the manager and the individual contributor.”

                                                                                  — Cindy Naughton, Sodexo

“A ‘small’ but impactful thing all managers should do is ask their IC’s what matters to them, what makes them excited, what they are passionate about, what they want to be doing in 1-5 years.”

                                                                                 — Alicia M. Henríquez, Momofuku

“Most people can get by as a manager.  To elevate to a leader, a “Little Thing” is to sincerely care for the individuals, take time to learn about them, show interest in them, and show concern for them.  Pretending doesn’t work.”

                                                                                 — Tom Chesser, Levi, Ray & Shoup

“Simply genuinely ask your people questions about themselves and their family to show them that you care about them as people and not just employees.”

        — Mike Rude, Option Care

“This isn’t necessarily ‘little’ but the most important thing a manager can do is to build an environment where open and clear communication helps to establish and foster TRUST between manager/ reports and between team mates.”

                                                                                 — Giovanni Valencia, Tory Burch

“There are three fundamental LITTLE THINGS that managers can do to elevate their relationships with their individual contributors.

  • Be humble.
  • Care for their people.
  • Always do the right thing.”

                                                                                 — Riyaz Adamjee, Teletrac Navman

“The most important ‘little thing’ that leaders can do is show appreciation to their employees, making sure it is specific, timely and genuine in its delivery. Employees at all levels say that a little “thank you for…” can change their bad day into a good day, and their good day into a great day. The best thing about appreciation is that it takes only a few seconds and it costs absolutely nothing.”

                                                                                 — Vicki Hoevemeyer, Lexington Health Network

“Besides the cliché of care about them as a person, I would say that it’s to mentor them to think of every candidate as their client- every part of the recruiting life cycle will fail if you don’t take care of your candidates.”

     — Suzanne Helmold, GEP Worldwide

“Take a genuine interest in them.”

      — Carol Wells, Genentech

“Ask open questions without judgement. Be truly interested to learn what they are thinking.”

Rachel Walter Hutchinson, Hilti, Inc.