Every employer wants to get the most out of their staff, butdon’t know how. In the last 10 years that I’ve been managing staff, I caneasily say that (for the most part) I’ve had the most amazing staff in theworld.
More often than not, when it seems a staff member is notworking up to their potential, the employee’s weaknesses can be traced back to theweaknesses of the manager… There I said it! Therefore a good manager will modifytheir management style in order to motivate staff to fulfill their potential. For the most part, I have found most employeesgenuinely want to work hard for their employer, but they want encouragement andthey want a pat on back once in a while. In addition, employees want constructivefeedback not abuse. Most importantly, employees want to feel as if they make a differencein the lives of the people with whom they interact on a daily basis – theiremployer included! In short employees want to be, recognized and treated as theprofessionals that they are.
It would be a lie for me to say that every employee in theworld is a good employee. There are some people who were just plain lazy,difficult etc… But in many years ofmanagement, I found that with minor modifications to my management style, I canbring out the best in most employees. So in this post I wanted to discuss alittle bit about the management style that I found most effective over theyears.
In general, allemployers want the same thing. They wantdedication, loyalty, and hard work. You can get all of those things out of yourstaff members and more by just giving them what they need to be betteremployees. So, what are the things you mustgive employees to make them better staff members, more productive employees,and harder workers? That answer, is two simple words: Leader and Mentor.
When I think leader, I see a flock of birds flying south forthe winter. The leader is the one at the front of the “V” formation. Somethingthat’s very interesting about the leader of the flock of birds is it thatleader flies forward and doesn’t look back to check if the other birds arestill flapping their wings. That leader guidesthe rest of the flock to their destination assuming that the other birds areprofessional enough to follow. The leader simply sets the example. Do you trust your staff to follow or do youmicromanage every step?
If you are a micromanager, do you believe that your stafffeels professional, empowered, loyal, or dedicated? Do you think you are goingto get the most out of that staff? Do you feel that micromanaging is aneffective use of your/their time? Do you believe that the staff can be creativeif you dictate their every move?
Next, the most important virtue in a leader is the abilityto recognize that you don’t know everything. In complement to that, a leaderrecognizes that staff members may know a lot more than you think – sometimesmore than YOU. If you would just open earsand listen, you might learn what gold you have working just a few steps away. If you want to be a good leader you must learnthis simple phrase: “I don’t know. Whatyou think?” You’ll be amazed how much wisdom you can get out of people thatsurround you if you’re just willing to admit your own limitations.
Rule: Leaders do NOT know everything. What leaders do knowis how to motivate those around them to provide the unparalleled value of adiverse range of experience, education, expertise, and creativity.
A leader motivates staff. But, how?
The best thing to do in order to get staff motivated is tofind what they are good at and use that skill for your benefit. Don’t wasteyour time and the staff’s time trying to make staff develop something theydon’t have. I recently read a book called strength Finder 2.0. It points outthat it very difficult to overcome weaknesses; however, it very easy and veryfulfilling to apply strength. Many people become so absorbed in trying toovercome weaknesses that they forget to focus on their strengths. From amanager’s perspective, if you focus on your staff’s strengths rather than theirweaknesses, you will get a lot more out of out of them.
Next, a leader knows how to make a project professionally beneficial for the staff. Sometimes managers don’thave ‘formal’ power (e.g. firing and raises). Without that, how can you motivatestaff? Make it for their benefit! A tactic I use to motivate staff is to point outa) the importance of this task to the company/project/strategic goal and b) theprofessional/career development that the employee will get from the project interms of experience and new skill development. I explain to them how the taskrelates to a larger thing such as how it applies to the industry in general. This high level communication about thecompany’s strategic goals and its importance to the industry in general is thebest kind of career development program a company can have! Not only do you getthe staff’s complete dedication to the project, but you also develop theirunderstanding for bigger projects later.
Lastly, a leader recognizes their staff’s efforts and showsappreciation. A leader is never challenged or intimidated when a staff memberhas a good idea. A good leader never takes credit for another’s work. A leaderwill sponsor ideas and let the staff develop them and a leader will sit backand LISTEN when someone has a better plan. You may be surprised by how much ofa motivator little phrases like ‘thank you’, ‘good job’, ‘smart idea’, etc. really are tostaff members.
Now, some may say ‘why should I waste my time telling them staff whyto do a tasks – I am the boss and if they want a job they will listen’. Well then, you’re not a leader, you are mean. Withthat attitude, you will never have a staff give back according to their maximumpotential. A leader is a motivator – a leader is a cheerleader – a leader is amentor. How do they do it? They treatthe staff professionally, they communicate, they do not micromanage, theyaccept their own limitations, and they encourage staff communication andcreativity. Help staff to realize theimportance of their role make them feel professional and they will actprofessionally!