You Should Never Be Too Busy to Engage With Your Employees

August 8, 2016, 12:00 AM UTC
Young adults are playing foosball at work
Coworkers are relaxing by playing foosball together in their startup office
Photograph by Eva Katalin Kondoros — Getty Images

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It wasn’t too long ago when you and your entire team could fit in the same room. Now, you can’t remember the last time you had a conversation with some of your employees. As your company grows, you may be wondering how to make the most out of the limited interaction you have with your team.

That’s why we asked 13 experienced entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:

Q: How can I make sure to get enough one–on–one time with my employees while my company (and workload) rapidly grows?

1. Invite Employees to Daily Walks

I invite my employees to go on two relaxing, 15-minute walks around the neighborhood every day. This allows me to stay healthy while getting to know my employees better. It’s been one of the best things I’ve done to really get to know people on a personal level. After a month of doing this, you’ll have done 40 walks with 40 different employees–after a year, that’s 500+ people. —John Rampton, Due

2. Create Structure

We aim to have a non-hierarchical culture—the best ideas can come from anywhere. But I also know that every employee needs a sounding board and support. As we’ve grown, I can’t effectively provide that for everyone, so I’ve opted to create some structure so that each employee gets a weekly 1:1 with their manager. —Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh Inc.

3. Say Good Morning

Aim to walk around the office and greet your teams at the start of the day. As the company grows, face time with each employee will decrease, but a simple gesture in the morning can show that you’re still engaged and interested in all members of the company. —Chuck Cohn, Varsity Tutors

For more on company culture, watch this Fortune video:

4. Schedule Regular Check-Ins

At Amplify Relations, we found that quarterly evaluations were daunting for employees and management. Instead, we instituted revolving check-in meetings where company owners meet oneonone with a different staff person every week. It creates a positive and ongoing conversation to talk about what’s going well for the employee and the company, as well as things that can be improved. —Megan Bedera, Amplify Relations

5. Rotate Leadership on Different Projects

I’m able to get more oneonone time with employees that I put into leadership roles; with our many different projects, everyone gets to take the lead on something once every few months. This keeps me close to my employees and their goals. —Matt Doyle, Excel Builders

6. Seek Out the ‘Connectors’ in Your Organization

Ask around to figure out who the “go-to” people are in your organization—the people who everyone else goes to when they have a bad day at work. Spending time with them puts you close to the action and lets you know to whom you should then go spend extra time with. This is especially important when you get north of 15 to 20 people. —Zachary Johnson, Syndio

7. Build a Culture of Mentorship

We started 1:1s as part of our career management at Kvantum from the first year. Initially, as a founder, you do most of the 1:1s, but it’s humanly impossible to connect with everyone for an hour-long discussion multiple times a year when you’re scaling. Now, I coach my team leads about how to be a mentor and give them a consistent framework to formally conduct 1:1s throughout the year. —Shilpi Sharma, Kvantum Inc.

8. Be Accessible

I make myself accessible to all of my employees. If they need oneonone time, I’m more than happy to schedule lunch or dinner with them to talk outside the office about anything that’s on their mind. I try tomake it very clear that they’re my priority. —Ginger Jones, Jones Therapy Services

9. Prioritize It Like a Client Meeting

Schedule 1:1s in your calendar, and don’t let them get moved or preempted. Make them informal so it’s easy to talk to employees about their work and personal life. If possible, go out for coffee or a drink. And, be present—leave your phone in your pocket or you’ll never give the attention your employees deserve. —Dan Golden, Be Found Online

10. Get in the Middle of the Action

I try to sit among my employees in the office as much as possible to keep connected with them. I make myself as accessible as possible, so I’m in the action and up-to-date with what the whole staff is up to. —Jayna Cooke, EVENTup

11. Walk Around the Office

It’s good to make routine trips around the office to check in on people. Not everybody may require oneonone time, but it’s worth walking around the office to check on everyone at least weekly. Spend about an hour on Mondays walking around, catching up with as many people as you can while letting your employees know you are available if they needoneonone time. The people that want it will tell you. —Andy Karuza, FenSens

12. Host Happy Hours at the Office

The best way to connect and bond with your team is through informal get-togethers. While it may be impractical to host your entire team at a baseball or football game, hosting a happy hour at your office at least once per month is economical and will allow you to talk oneonone withyour team. Keep it fun by including music, games, and free food. Work the room and get to know your team. —Kristopher Jones,

More from AllBusiness:
10 Tasks to Delegate to Employees
10 Simple Steps to Inspire and Engage Your Employees to Do Their Best for You
14 Creative Ways to Stay Motivated

13. Remember That Less Is More

Less is more, but here’s the twist: spend less time with your employees, and do it more often. Employees don’t need to spend massive amounts of time with you monologuing—that’s just frustrating. They need more meetings that are short and tactical. Use tools like 15Five to keep meetings less about reporting and more about solving problems. This will also help your employees to achieve goals and boost morale. —Eran Eyal, Springleap