“My manager never returns my calls. She only calls me when it fits her agenda. That drives me crazy.”
“I don't think she really cares.”
—Conversation overheard at airport terminal
Both of those people may stay with their organization for a long time, but I wouldn't bet on it.
In Maslow's hierarchy of needs, two of the most significant psychological needs we have as human beings are the need to be appreciated and the need to belong. These needs are met through encouragement and recognition.
Oftentimes leaders get so focused on the “big things” that they forget to take care of the basics, like showing the people on their team that their leader actually cares about them. As the poet Robert W. Service said, “It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out; it's the grain of sand in your shoe.”1 Many times the “grain of sand” that keeps someone disengaged at work is lack of attention and encouragement from their leader.
William James, recognized as the father of American psychology, stated that the most fundamental psychological need is to be appreciated.2 Everyone has the need to be appreciated. The unspoken question from your team is, “Do you care?” What they mean is, do you care about them as a person—as more than just another cog in the company wheel?
You are already answering the “Do you care?” question, whether you know it or not. Even if you are not consciously and verbally answering the question, it is always being answered by what the people on ...