One of your priorities for business growth this year is your staff, and getting the best out of them is highly dependent on your people management skills.
Management is primarily about relationships and these relationships help define the quality of the work employees do, their development and the evolution of a positive culture within your business.
An efficient manager knows how to connect with staff and guide them toward becoming leaders themselves. It’s hard work, but we have some pointers that’ll set you on the right path.
1. Are you really listening?
It’s easy for management to be one-sided, always about giving orders without room for unsolicited responses from staff. This isn’t effective, not even close. Ask around, do some research and you’ll learn that a culture of openness gets more lasting good results than an instructive and overbearing style. You can’t dominate people and expect them to be free with you.
Let your staff know they can always come to you. Encourage them to send you suggestions through an established channel (email is fine, not everything requires a phone call). Plan a weekly meeting where issues are discussed openly and everyone has an opportunity to speak even if it’s for a few minutes each. Show your staff that you’re a good listener and they’ll be more willing to talk about their difficulties. That way, many potential problems will be dealt with before they escalate.
2. An omission of the truth is a lie
Employees hate being blindsided. Everyone does, really. It’s disrespectful to be told important things at the last minute or not at all, and holding back keeps people in the dark. Even worse, it breeds mistrust. An efficient manager is honest. Communicate with your staff directly and openly. If it’s bad, tell them it’s bad. Have hard conversations and address situations as a team. That’s how to develop harmony and prevent the spread of rumours within your business.
3. Can you bend a little, please?
Fact: You don’t know everything and your way is not the only way.
Like it or not, your staff know more about several things than you do. Be flexible enough to bend past your ego to accept wise suggestions from them. Here’s the logic for that: Your staff are doing the work, so they probably have clues to improving performance and fine-tuning processes to cut costs and increase revenue. You’ll be losing a lot by being a stickler for your traditional style when it’s clear that there’s a better way.
4. You’re the gold standard
People often need a yardstick, a point of reference, or they’ll be lost. You are that yardstick. Your employees will always take cues from you. If you’re sleeping on the job, they’ll assume it’s okay to do the same (even if they’re too afraid to actually imitate you). And if you deliver consistently, they’ll start working hard to match you. Efficient management is more about what you do than what you say. Start leading the way for excellence in your business by being excellent yourself.
5. Feedback, feedback, feedback!
Employees need to know how well they’re doing and regularly too. They need feedback to assure them that they’re not on their own. “I’m not feeling you” is not feedback. It is unspecific and provides no direction for improvement. Let your staff know that you’re paying attention to their work by communicating with them regularly and clearly.
Address specific points in your feedback and offer advice for better performance. Also, don’t be an absentee manager who gives orders and disappears. Even when you have to be physically absent, set up channels of communication to stay in touch. Never underestimate the positive effect your presence can have on your business.