Managers can cause ambition or frustration for employees in the workplace. In a recent Gallup study, only 18% of managers have a natural talent for leading employees, the other 82% either have to work at it or are disconnected from their team. That separation shows up in the company’s profit margin. In this article, we will discuss five areas of improvement for managers.
We’ve identified several areas for you to increase your skills to become a better manager. Most managers have developed some of these skills, but working on others can help you develop the core of your leadership abilities.
Motivate your employees
Motivating employees is all about communicating more effectively. It’s about recognition for a job well done, supporting them and encouraging them to be their best, and giving them the tools to reach those goals. Here are some other examples that will help you in your efforts to motivate your employees.
- Recognize employees for their work. A personal and sincere “thank you” for a job well done will go a long way. Thanks are easy to give. Give your thanks verbally or in writing sincerely, promptly, and often!
- Meet with your employees. Talk with your team, listen to what they have to say, and give feedback. Don’t put a time limit on these sessions, make sure that they are comfortable opening up to you and have all the time they need to discuss the situation with you.
- Create an atmosphere of trust and openness. Let employees in on decisions that affect them. Make it all about a partnership between the management and the employees.
- Celebrate success. Success is not about one person, it’s a team effort. Make sure that you make time for the victories, whether it be a pizza-on-the-company lunch or an impromptu end-of-day party to celebrate.
- Use assertiveness to overcome issues. Most people struggle to assert themselves. Whether it’s because of self-doubt, a lack of confidence, fear that they will not be accepted, or many other reasons. Assertiveness can come in many forms, but not all have negative connotations. Assertiveness can be a leading force for change. Here are some ways assertiveness used with your own talents can increase your impact in the workplace.
- Don’t be afraid to voice your or your team’s ideas to your superiors. Most new ideas are not accepted readily. If you are to be the instrument of change, prepare to challenge established concepts with logic and innovation. When challenged, it forces people to think about their established policy to justify their position, often leading to new and better ideas.
- Encouraging teamwork. A manager who is assertive in fostering a safe space for ideas and discussion can make their team a unit and increase their effectiveness. Safe spaces are necessary to give everyone’s view, even the unpopular, a voice without fear of reprisal.
- Act with integrity. Assertiveness does not imply honesty. There are many shy or timid people who act with integrity, but when you use assertiveness with integrity, it gives people the courage to know and stand up for what is right.
- Add power to effective communications. Assertive managers can communicate with passion and conviction. Assertiveness adds power to their words, which clearly communicates their position.
- Encourage accountability. Most accountability processes are flawed, focusing more on how an employee fits into certain predetermined criteria instead of focusing on a more human approach of playing into an employee’s strengths. The “score-keeping” type of approach has built-in negative effects, in that managers look for what is lacking and force them to characterize a person into a certain “category.” The typical reaction to this type of review is that the employee feels intimidated and unsafe and will hide any underperformance so they will not receive a “bad review.” As reported by the Harvard Business Review, after 30 years of study, they have identified three shifts in thinking to improve employee accountability that values and respects an individual’s unique work style and encourages them to overcome challenges to make even greater progress. Managers must reverse the “score-keeping” approach and use an approach that treats the employee with dignity and respect, encouraging self-accountability. Here are the three ways to improve an employee’s self-accountability:
- Make dignity for the employee a cornerstone. Focusing on creating an atmosphere where employees can be the best version of themselves builds trust and better relationships between the manager and the employee. Questions like, “what have you learned so far this quarter?” or “what is the single thing you did that you’re most proud of?” These questions get employees talking and can make the employee more eager to share their achievements or struggles. Managers need to be focused on helping employees succeed. When dignity is the focus and not monitoring and surveillance, employees will feel less intimidated and more open to discussing their strengths and shortcomings. Instead of saying “good job,” ask about how they did it. You will see them light up and enjoy telling you what the problems were and how they overcame them.
Always be fair
Our current accountability systems are flawed in that they focus on work only and do not take the employee’s individual and unique skill set into account. Forcing these two factors apart devalues the accountability system and invalidates it. A manager must consider the value an employee brings as a result of their own unique talents.
Research has shown that companies have certain biases inside their review systems. To be fair, you must ask yourself questions like, “does everyone have equal access to opportunities?” and “how do we determine who excels?” or “whose ideas and voices are really heard?” When a manager must ask themselves these questions, it brings the idea of fairness to all in much sharper focus.
- Balance shortcomings with a growth mindset. Employees do not like to admit shortcomings or failures, and it’s no surprise why. There are consequences. Instead of treating these shortcomings as problems that should be reprimanded, treat them as growth opportunities. A good manager should be humble enough to acknowledge their own lapse in a failed assignment. Consider asking yourself, “did I provide the tools for the successful completion of the assignment?” “Did I give a reasonable time frame for completion?” “Did I provide the support necessary for completion?” Providing fair, actionable observations will go a long way in making employees eager to share their experiences and ability to be accountable, permitting growth and a happier employee.
- Build trust. Building trust takes considerable effort. As a manager, you must be an example for your employees. Everything you say, every action you take must align with the values you’ve set for yourself and your employees. Enabling your employees to trust in you, fosters their trust in each other, creating a solid foundation for success and future growth.
build trust with your employees
Creating trust is essential for a manager to know what is going on within their organization. It enables employees to be more forthcoming when they see problems arise. Without that trust, an employee has no motivation to address such issues.
- Create a personal connection. The best way to accomplish creating this connection is to work side-by-side with them. Even if you’re the boss, take some customer service calls in a rush period, or sit and chat with them about what’s going on in your life and theirs at lunch, or have a quick chat about your favorite sports teams at the water cooler. It’s a well-established fact as your perceived power grows, your trustworthiness diminishes. For this reason, it’s important that the employees see you as one of their own.
- Be candid, honest, and supportive. Being a manager can be difficult, especially when things don’t go as planned. Especially during these times, some straightforward and candid talk could be required. The important thing is to remember to be candid and honest while respecting your employee’s feelings. Being supportive, even in difficult times, can go a long way in building trust as a leader.
- Encourage, don’t dictate. Employees do not respond well to being ordered about. Offer encouragement instead. This way, they can feel prepared and motivated to take on the task and feel pride in it. You have trusted them with something important and lifted them to that level. When an employee feels that they are a significant part of the company and its values, they will find ways to work harder and smarter.
- Give credit where it’s due. No one likes a manager that takes credit for their employee’s hard work and then turns around and blames them when profits are down. Get the most out of your employees by giving them praise and credit when they do an outstanding job for you, and your superior’s notice. Alternately, when things go wrong, instead of shifting the blame to your employees, include yourself in that equation; you could say that the company and your own leadership need to improve. You might ask, “how can we all avoid this in the future?” Showing your own vulnerabilities and asking for their input will show them you don’t believe that you operate on different levels. The rules apply to everyone, even you.
- Be competent at your job. Employees can spot a fake easily. You have to be good at your job to engage the trust of your employees. Don’t even try to fake it. They can and will spot it and you will never gain their trust. Show that you have the humility to understand that you don’t know everything and are willing to learn and educate yourself in areas you’re not strong in. Be willing to ask questions, your employees will see this and respect you for it.