With the empty bottles of bubbly placed safely in the recycling bin and the confetti swept off the floor, it’s time to get back to the grind. The beginning of the year can be a busy time for business owners and executives, because you no doubt want to get off to a strong start in 2020.

One danger of a hectic beginning is setting an early precedent for distancing yourself from rank-and-file staff. After all, a busy opening to the year may turn into a chaotic middle and a frantic conclusion. Hopefully all’s well that ends well, but you and your top-level executives could wind up isolating yourselves from employees — and that’s not good.

Here are some ways to stay connected with staff throughout the year:

Solicit feedback. Set up an old-fashioned suggestion box or perhaps a more contemporary email address where employees can vent their concerns and ask questions. Ownership or executive management can reply to queries with the broadest implications, while other managers could handle questions specific to a given department or position. Share answers through company-wide emails or make them a feature of an internal newsletter or blog.

Hold a company meeting. At least once a year, hold a “town hall” with staff members to answer questions and discuss issues face to face. You could even take it to the next level by organizing a company retreat, where you can not only answer questions but challenge employees to come up with their own strategic ideas.

Be social. All work and no play can make owners and execs look dull and distant. Hold an annual picnic, host an outing to a sporting event or throw a holiday party so you and other top managers can mingle socially and get to know people on a personal level.

Make appearances. Business owners and executives should occasionally tour each company department or facility. Give managers a chance to speak with you candidly. Sit in on meetings; ask and answer questions. Employees will likely get a morale boost from seeing you take an active interest in their little corner of the company.

Learn a job. For a potentially fun and insightful change of pace, set aside a day to learn about a specific company position. Shadow an employee and let him or her explain what really goes into the job. Ask questions but stay out of the way. Clarify upfront that you’re not playing “gotcha” but rather trying to better understand how things get done and what improvements you might make.

By staying visible and interactive with employees, your staff will likely feel more appreciated and, therefore, be more productive. You also may gather ideas for eliminating costly redundancies and inefficiencies. Maybe you’ll even find inspiration for your next big strategic move. We can assist you in assessing the potential costs and benefits of the strategies mentioned and more.

© 2020