It’s easy to disregard quiet, unassuming people, especially if you don’t work with them directly. But if you never talk with them, problems mount. They may withhold their ideas or concerns. And if they grow disgruntled, you may never know until they quit.
Here’s how to manage invisible employees:
Give high-priority eye contact. When you meet with small groups of employees, you may focus on outspoken staffers or your trusted lieutenants. That’s understandable but dangerous. The rest will feel snubbed.
The next time you huddle with your team, establish eye contact with the quietest folks. Address them first and draw them out.
Be sincere and connect in a way that is natural for you. In a well-meaning attempt to connect with mousy employees, you may come on too strong. If you’re hyper-friendly, they may withdraw even more when they can’t match your joviality or get a word in edgewise.
It’s better to initiate a few quick business conversations. Exchange work-related questions and answers without trying too hard to make small talk. By becoming accessible, you’ll build rapport over time.
Celebrate twice a year. If you don’t have a chance to approach your quietest managers on routine business, don’t wait for an annual .
Recognize two dates—their birthdays and hire-date anniversaries— by taking your direct reports to lunch. This guarantees you’ll chat with everyone at least twice a year. And it’ll send a message that you value them.