As a manager, your job is to build company productivity by getting the most out of your employees. But doing this successfully requires an understanding of human nature and view for the long term. Sure, you can bully and scare your employees into a short burst of increased productivity…until they leave. And sure, you can win false, temporary respect by swaggering through the office, taking credit for employee’s ideas, and emphasizing pecking order above the needs of the company.
But wouldn’t you rather look around the workplace and see engaged, thriving employees who respect each other, care about the company, and stay late because they want to, not because you’re making them? Wouldn’t you prefer this even if it means employees who sometimes question you? Or employees who may even, heaven forbid, know more than you do about the nature of their work?
If you’re a great manger, or want to be, the answer is yes. Consider the following as you take steps to make this happen.
Stop Saying No, and Start Saying Maybe
Of course you need to prevent employees from doing the wrong thing. This means giving black-and-white answers and dictating precise instructions when you need to. But whenever the opportunity arises to help employees navigate a grey area or make a decision on their own, take advantage of that opportunity by letting them do it. Don’t just prevent them from doing wrong: give them the tools, resources and opportunity to do right, and do it by themselves.
Replace Disconnection with Genuine Engagement
Again, step-by-step instructions and black-and-white answers will help employees execute tasks like robots. But over the long term, you’ll get more out of your employees and they’ll experience greater loyalty and commitment if they actually know what they’re doing and why. If they see the big picture, they’ll be more inclined to engage with their jobs rather than just go through the motions. But encouraging engagement sometimes means taking risks and having the patience to teach, rather than just give orders.
Be a Fellow Learner, Not a Know-it-All
False leadership means constant bluffing and blustering in an effort to keep followers in line. But true leadership requires humility. Stop trying to be a font of all wisdom and recognize that, like your employees, you have much to learn about this business. A fellow learner is more interesting, more highly respected, more approachable, and more trustworthy than a blustering windbag.
Stop Commanding, Start Inspiring
Workplaces have always been influenced by the culture at large, and in earlier generations, workers responded to top-down leadership differently than they do today. In the modern workplace, employees thrive when they’re inspired and coached. They don’t respond as well to being ordered around. This is especially true among younger workers and members of so called “generation Y”. These young workers are savvy and self-confident, and trying to fool or overawe them won’t make them more productive. Instead, earn their respect by teaching them, coaching them, and giving them agency over important decisions. As always, great leadership means placing the long term needs of the company ahead of your own.
For more tips on becoming a great manager, contact the staffing and HR experts at CSS.