Imagine how your employees describe you in your absence. Fantastic? Terrible? Terrifying, even?
We’ve all heard the horror stories; bosses refusing to let employees off to visit their grandmother on her deathbed, bosses who can’t let go of their military pasts and shout at their employees like soldiers. And then there’s the bosses of legend, the ones that rank amongst some of the greatest teachers and mentors their employees will experience.
Talented managers increase productivity, profitability, and employee engagement. Moreover, talent sticks with talent, and high performing managers are shown to retain their best employees (and potential future managers) for longer.
So, which kind of boss are you? Or, more importantly, which kind of boss do your employees think you are?
It’s tricky to self-assess where you lie on the continuum of leadership. However, if you’ve got a dash of self-awareness, a willingness to change, and a spare five minutes, we’ve pinpointed 5 ways to upgrade your management skills by the end of this article.
You want to motivate like January 1st, a fresh Monday morning, or a thoughtful Instagram quote. Except, your motivation is going to last for more than a few days (or in the case of Mondays, past lunchtime). If you can inspire individual employees with your compelling vision and emphasize their contribution, they will exceed expectations.
Sound complicated? First, assess an employee’s “unsatisfied needs”, and then frame projects to satisfy those needs. Simple! Let’s break this process down:
- Needs: We all have needs in our jobs, and they usually centre on achievement, responsibility, recognition, influence, and personal growth.
- Goals: Make these clearly defined, and challenging but possible. Accomplishing these kinds of goals will satisfy the aforementioned needs.
- Reinforcement: When an employee accomplishes a goal, they should be rewarded, and then given another opportunity to reach a goal and satisfy another need.
What a beautiful, satisfying cycle! However, you cannot read minds (sorry) so it’s not always easy to set goals that your employees will actually want to achieve. Get creative with incentives (pay rises, personal praise, public recognition) and figure out some appropriate punishments or deterrents (withholding pay, disciplinary action, criticism, etc.). Tailor these to suit your unique situation and watch productivity skyrocket.
Not assertive enough? You’re a pushover. Too assertive? Now you’re just the first three letters. Once you find balance, you’ll be able drive outcomes and conquer adversity. The takeaway: be assertive, not a jerk.
- Make a conscious effort to connect with your employees and develop relationships. Wave goodbye to the stigma of being stubborn or ignoring the opinions of others, because you’re open-minded and a great collaborator.
- Make criticism constructive and your feedback helpful. Your assertiveness shouldn’t detract from your message (consider employees crying a red flag).
- Assertiveness is your path to consensus. Involve others in the decision-making process and they’ll have your back when the time comes to push something through.
Create a company culture of both positive and negative accountability:
- Set clear, specific goals for individuals.
- Work together with your employees to create an action-oriented plan towards the goal. Each goal should lead to another, so an achievement is always followed by a next step.
- Monitor employee progress, and reinforce actions and behaviours that lead to their goals. Constantly communicate to avoid surprises!
If you don’t want to be dismissed when you preach accountability, make your actions louder than your words. You know, just be…accountable?
Relationships are the building blocks of a great workplace. What’s your weakest work relationship? With that relationship in mind, turn those building blocks from sand to concrete with the next five points:
- R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is not only a catchy lyric, it’s also a vital life skill. Here, you get what you give. Work hard to maintain respect and you won’t have to face the challenge of regaining it after it’s been lost.
- Face time (no, not on your iPhone) is essential. Meaning can get muddled amidst the back and forth of digital communications, and keyboard wars can be resolved promptly in person. Besides, you’ll get to know people and more easily avoid tensions to begin with.
- Sharing is caring! Ah, Mum was right. During your all-important face-to-face time with employees, take the opportunity to share relevant information. Employees love being in the loop; it increases their personal investment, and your reliability as a source will earn their respect. Everybody wins! (Thanks Mum).
- Strategically choose the time and place to share information. Bad news should usually be delivered in private, and tearing up an employee in the middle of the office rarely helps anyone (unless you want to become one of the horrible-boss-horror-stories we discussed earlier – in which case, shoot me an email so I can write you in at the top).
- Amidst all this chitchat, never forget to listen! You’re probably not the only one with news, and we all share the need to feel heard. Creating a reputation as an active-listener will pay off generously.
Confidently Make Decisions
When you’re able to make a decision and take it all the way through into action, that’s when you go from manager to leader. Don’t forget to:
- Write down your thought process. This will help you visualise the end-goal, and is an easy way to record your initial train of thought for future reference or explanation.
- Get all the facts. Take your time to assess all angles before making a move; leaping before you look is a quick and easy way to look like a fool.
- Be decisive! Don’t let problems linger unresolved. Perfectionism is the nemesis of productivity, so once you’ve made a decision, stick to it and move forward with the next issue.
- Embrace challenges. Attack your problems fearlessly, and see every decision for what it is: an opportunity.
Now you’re making fantastic decisions, make sure you remain part of the process and follow through to their implementation.
There, that wasn’t too hard was it? At the heart of all these steps, is great communication. Put a conscious effort into what and how you communicate, and you won’t be able to help becoming one of those amazing managers most employees can only dream about (or read about on Roubler).
What are some other tips you’ve incorporated in your managing style?