Jorge Vaquera is all about the conversation.
The Tehachapi, CA, Postmaster regularly meets with his employees to conduct “next-level connection” discussions, which allow them to share observations about their workplace environment.
“We always need to recognize all of our people. We need to know what’s going on,” he says.
The Postal Service wants all managers and supervisors to regularly conduct next-level connection conversations. The discussions are part of the organization’s effort to boost employee engagement, which has been shown to improve customers’ experiences and workplace safety.
To help other managers and supervisors, Vaquera — a Sierra Coastal District Engagement Leader of the Year honoree — offers these suggestions:
• Start now. Begin having next-level connection conversations with your employees now and continue them throughout each year.
“It shouldn’t be, ‘Oh, we have six days left [in the year], so we better start them now,’” Vaquera says.
• Be inclusive. Vaquera has next-level connection conversations with everyone on his team, including contractors.
“You should want feedback from everyone so you can get better,” he says.
• Build trust. Bring an open mind to every conversation and invite employees to be candid.
“Some employees don’t want to say they’re mad at the boss. They might fear retribution or retaliation. But don’t give up because that’s what we need to hear,” Vaquera says.
He adds: “I want everybody to want to be at work in a safe, fun environment. I want them to want to be here. To me, if you are a happy employee, you’ll do a better job. Next-level connection conversations help us know how we’re doing.”