With all due respect to The Godfather and a healthy fear of the mafia, Micheal Corleone got it wrong.  I mean, come on — if you’re about to kill me for business, I’m gonna take that pretty personally, dontcha think? “It’s not personal, it’s strictly business.” Really? Well, in the words of You’ve Got Mail: “What does that even mean? Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”   

Everything we do in business is personal. We bring our personal values into our work. Our feeling of being valued, our feeling of importance, our feeling of worth — they’re all so often intricately tied to our work & our business.

This is true of everyone — you and your team — AND Michael Corleone.  He called it “business” but he was responding emotionally.  He was offended and taking revenge. That’s personal. The work your team is doing isn’t just about productivity; it isn’t just about what they’re accomplishing or getting done, how fast they’re working or how many client leads they build. Sure, that’s a core part of the work, and it’s certainly important. But all of that is connected personally for them. It’s their work, their identity, their contribution to the world, how they feed their family and fund their hobbies and causes.

Do you know how your team is doing — personally? What are their reasons for working?  How does it fulfill and fund them? Why this work, here — instead of something else somewhere else?

Of course, healthy boundaries are important, and you certainly don’t need to know everything about everyone on your team. But the truth is, you really should have some awareness of how they’re doing — why they are doing — personally. What are they bringing to their work? What other influences besides you as a manager are affecting them?

This is the power of a personal check-in. Make time to simply check. Make time to ask!

Now, you don’t need to pry into their personal life — but give them a chance to share. Let them know you care. If you don’t know how they’re feeling, you don’t know how they might be unhappy, drawn away, hurt. The more you know, the more you might understand how to serve them as a leader.

And if you’re not serving, you’re not a leader.