by Chris Castillo, Millennial Career Coach and Corporate Trainer www.beempoweredachievers.com
Rapport leaders are the people who other employees look to during times of transition or those who are respected within the company. If there is a round of layoffs, you can bet your staff will be listening closely to see how the rapport leaders respond. “Do they seem worried? Should I feel worried?” In a company-wide training, people will be looking to them to see how closely they are paying attention. These are the quiet cues that answer things like, “Based on how this person I respect is acting, how should I act?” It’s human nature.
Rapport comes from your status or from your personality. People can be respected because they’re a high-level executive, or because they’re simply well-liked and plugged into the office. Considering what a huge impact rapport leaders can have on a company, though, it’s no wonder that it’s essential to get them on board with the company’s direction. If you’re managing one of these respected leaders within a company, you have a big job. Here are a few tips:
Give them responsibility. One of the best things you can do as a manager is to help your respected employee feel special by giving them a job. Ask them to take on additional responsibility, such as leading the weekly stand-up. You’re not only using their natural magnetism to your advantage, but you’re also grooming them for a future leadership role.
Share their impact. Make them aware of their influence. Of course, we don’t want to inflate their ego here, but most of the time, rapport leaders don’t fully understand their impact. They’ve always been charismatic, and they don’t realize that it’s the exception instead of the norm. Talk to your direct report about how the team looks to them in such high regard, and explain that when they’re frustrated by something, others may take that on.
Use them to establish buy-in with others. The best move that a company can make is having a coalition of rapport-builders who are in charge of engagement and culture. These can be the people who are the sounding board during times of change and are responsible for sharing feedback upwards to senior management. If leadership is able to go to their committee and discuss change before it’s shared with the rest of the organization, it will be easier to get other employees on board.
Most importantly, rapport leaders are the people you want on your side, so be sure to keep them engaged with the company. When a well-respected employee starts to feel apathetic at their organization, their negative energy will spread like wildfire. Soon, you’ll be left having to hire a lot of backfill.