There is More than One Way to Round
rounding isn't one size fits all
Rounding can occur across all levels of an organization. Mid-level leaders round with their direct reports. Senior leaders round with mid-level leaders. Executive leaders round with senior leaders, etc. It also is beneficial when cross-departmental rounding occurs, and when executive leaders round with front-line employees. Senior leaders will likely not be able to round with front-line employees with great frequency, but we know employees closest to the daily work have valuable insights to share. When rounding occurs at all levels we begin to break down silos and barriers between departments and increase engagement within our organizations.
Connecting individually with employees demonstrates our care and concern for their wellbeing, and effectively builds trusting relationships, therefore laying the foundation for creativity and innovation to flourish. While rounding, our focus as leaders is on listening, connection, and support. To effectively build relationships, leaders round with individuals on a consistent basis. This consistency is critical to building trust and strong relationships. The cadence itself will vary based on the size of a leader’s team and the organization, we want to take this into consideration as we plan a realistic rounding cadence.
To accomplish the task of routinely rounding on all employees in larger organizations, it’s helpful to set a yearly plan for our various leader levels. For example:
- Once per quarter executive leaders may round with mid-level leaders
- Twice per year executive leaders may round with front-line employees
- Leaders and their direct reports benefit from connecting at least once per month
To continue the flow of information and meeting employee’s needs, each leader can compile a summary of their rounding conversations to cascade up to their leader. This helps to keep our executive leadership team informed of the most important information relevant to all employees.
To best meet our employee’s needs, the organization’s goals, and serve our customers we consistently connect and listen. This may look different depending on the organization, and that’s okay. Remember, there isn’t a wrong way to round, unless you’re not doing it at all. Below are a few examples that may work for your team or organization.
6 different ways to round:
Senior executives design a plan to round on all levels of the organization. Depending on the number of employees, it’s likely this will only be possible one to three times per year. To reach all employees, each executive can be responsible for rounding with a specific business unit or department. During the next phase, leaders can be responsible for a different department, therefore providing people the opportunity to connect with those they may not regularly see.
The four rounding questions, when asked on a frequent basis, provide an opportunity for quick, informal connections with our team. Depending on our team’s size and location, these connections may be conducted as often as once per week and take as little as 15 minutes. In addition to regular, quicker connections, we encourage all leaders to meet with their direct reports at least once per month for an extended connection related to their growth and development.
When we stop into an employee’s office, or a different department unscheduled, we are informally rounding. These quick conversations can be used as a pulse-check in between scheduled monthly meetings and cross-department rounding. For some leaders, this may mean checking in on various locations throughout an organization or visiting front-level employees to check in on their experience. Informal rounding can also be utilized after stressful or challenging events have occurred within our organizations, its communities, and more broadly. Employees are often turn to their leaders to help pull them through in times of stress.
Who are your customers? Every organization exists to serve people or other organizations in some way or another. The people outside of an organization have valuable ideas and feedback to share that can help improve the organization, product, and customer experience. Determine the audiences you serve and create a plan to listen to customer feedback at least once per year. Part of that plan should include leaders conducting customer rounding. For example, within an education system, the Dean or Principal could schedule rounding connections with students and families or members of the community. We recommend 3 external customer connection questions for these meetings.
New leader rounding can be accomplished multiple ways. As individuals are promoted into leadership, or hired into a leadership position, it can be useful to schedule rounding connections with them specifically related to their new role. Similar to the 30-90-day conversations we conduct with all new employees, these connections help us retain our newest employees and leaders.
It’s also beneficial to allow new leaders time to conduct rounding conversations with individuals throughout the organization. When included in the onboarding schedule, these conversations help new leaders make connections and better understand the culture and mission of our organizations.
To collaborate and work most effectively, many organizations utilize cross-functional teams bringing a variety of necessary skills together. As these new teams are formed, or new projects are beginning, it can be helpful for the individuals on these teams to get to know one another by rounding with each other. For teams to realize the positive benefits of collaboration, individuals need to feel a connection with their team members. Trust is critical to working in teams successfully. While there are a variety of ways to do this, the purpose of rounding is to build trusting relationships, therefore, it’s a great place to start.