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NextGen Know-How: Set the Right Tone


April 2014 – Vol: 37 No. 4
by Laurie J. Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR

How you interact with and treat employees sets an example for how they will treat members

April 9, 2014Businessman talking to coworkers

We are getting ready to remodel our kitchen, and I contacted several contractors to visit our home to discuss the project and provide an estimate. One didn't return our initial calls, one came out and we had to follow up three times before he sent the estimate, and one called us back within a day and sent his estimate within two days of our meeting. It was not hard to decide who to hire for the job.

Responsiveness and follow-through are crucial for any business, and unfortunately many organizations fall short of making this a practice. How a person responds and follows up says a lot about an organization and their service. These actions set the tone for the relationship, or it dissolves the relationship before it has even begun.

This applies to leaders and their employees. Every interaction you have with your employees sets the tone for that relationship and either deepens the relationship or chips away at it. Unfortunately, many leaders take the relationships they have with employees for granted and don't see the impact of the daily interactions.

Below are common examples of how leaders can damage their relationship with employees:

  • showing up late to meetings;
  • shifting a meeting you have with an employee because another "priority" came up;
  • not providing feedback;
  • not giving an employee their performance evaluation on time;
  • not showing appreciation;
  • always being too busy to support or coach;
  • not providing clear expectations and deadlines; and
  • not being prepared for a meeting you have with an employee.


You have an opportunity every day to bring your best leadership to your people. How you interact with and treat your employees sets the tone for how they will treat your members. Accountability starts with you. Do you model accountability with your employees? Do you do what you say you are going to do? I believe our employee relationships are the most important. If you put your employees first, they will in turn put your members first. If employees feel appreciated and cared for, they will exhibit the same approach toward members.

Exceptional leaders model positive behaviors and view the relationships with their employees as one of the most important relationships to cultivate. Exceptional leaders are never too busy to write a thank-you note, show appreciation, meet with their employees, provide meaningful feedback, and conduct performance evaluations. Exceptional leaders know it's their job to make employees a priority and ensure the relationship gets continued focus.

I'd love to hear what you do to cultivate the relationship with your employees. In the comments section, share one thing you do to ensure your employees feel they are a priority.

Laurie J. Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR, is a certified executive coach, consultant and founder of Envision Excellence, LLC, Rockville, Md. She was also an HR executive at a $450 million credit union. Contact her at 240.605.7940 or lmaddalena@envisionexcellence.net.

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