Before we are employees, we are humans.
As a good leader, you should remember this even at the busiest of times.
Informal touch points can help to build and maintain relationships with your employees and can lead to better performance.
What Is A Touch Point?
Touch points are moments when a leader checks in and has quality contact with employees.
You might think you check in with your team a lot, but are your check-ins effective?
Do you meet face-to-face (physically or virtually)?
Do you, as the leader, initiate them?
Is the employee contributing to the conversation?
Are you having meaningful interactions?
In order to be effective, touch points must:
Be started by the leader
Involve face time
Have meaningful two-way communication
Which of these is an example of an effective touch point?
Touch Point Examples
Touch points are more than just small talk or performance reviews.
There are many ways to do touch points that are both task-related and non task-related.
Observe when employees do something worth acknowledging.
I noticed your solution to that problem you had. Very smart.
Asking how the day is going
How is the report coming along?
Meeting to discuss performance feedback and employees goals
You’re doing an excellent job. What kinds of things do you want to accomplish by the end of the year?
Giving informal feedback on the previous day’s performance
Hey, great job with that presentation yesterday.
Say “Good morning” or “Good night”
Asking for employee’s opinion on a work-related topic
“What do you think of the software we’re using for meetings?”
Following up with an employee on something
You went to that training recently. What did you learn?
Brief social “water-cooler” conversation
Did you ever get your sink fixed?
Types Of Employees
The type of touch points you should use depends on employees and their performance.
Generally, if an employee is new, developing new skills, or under-performing, you'll want to have more touch points related to coaching, checking their progress, and giving feedback.
If an employee is meeting or exceeding expectations, make fewer touch points about productivity, give compliments where needed, and ask more about their goals and opinions on business decisions.
Of course, every employee will be different. If an employee does not need a lot of performance recognition, then make more non task-related touch points.
When in doubt, do more frequent touch points and ask employees individually if they prefer a different approach.
Have more frequent touch points straight after major changes or projects.
How should you adjust your touch points if an under-performing employee improves?
Types Of Work And Leaders
Touch points will also depend on what type of work you do and what level of leader you are. Again, err on the side of too many touch points.
Machine Paced Work – If machines set the speed of work, then focus on non-task related touch points rather than productivity.
People Paced Work – Balance touch points that show concern for the employee as well as productivity.
Middle Management – Acknowledge each employee each day in the work environment.
Front Line Leaders – Make 3-6 touch points with each employee each day (minimum).
Senior Managers – Get out and chat with the front line as often as you can.
Try out these techniques with your team.
Try out the touch points recommended for your work and management level for at least 2 weeks straight. Make it a task on your task list if you have to.
Informal touch points might feel strange at first if you are not used to them, but be consistent! It can take time, so don't be put off and adjust if you need to based on employee feedback.