When you think about it leading people should involve a fair amount of common sense. Treat people as you would like to be treated would be a good starting point (masochists aside). So what would be on your list of how you would like to be treated? I have listed some but encourage you to develop your own list and use it as a tool to cross-check how you are treating your own staff.
- Care about me as a person. If I am stressed, sad, excited – ask me why. It doesn’t need to involve hour-long sessions of psychotherapy – simply asking “you look a little ———- is everything OK”. Finding out a relation/child/parent is very ill and being sympathetic will go a long way to building a connection and link to your leadership when you are asking for an extra effort (or better still they do it without you asking).
- Involve me in decisions and matters that affect my work, department, company. Now this doesn’t mean every decision becomes a poll and popular vote. Vroom and Yetton developed a model for optimising type of involvement and decision-making. In summary unless there is a conflict of interest (e.g. what should your pay increase be this year?) or a lack of time (need a decision in 2 mins – there is a fire and we need to take the exit!) you will gain a lot from involving people in planning, projects and decisions. You are likely to unearth some great ideas, build an understanding of why something is required and what options have been considered, develop your staff for the future when these issues arise and build commitment to the final decision. Of course if you ignore everything they suggest without a reasonable basis or explanation then don’t even start.
- Give me some autonomy to apply the skills I have so I don’t feel that everything I do is being monitored. Autonomy generates a high level of intrinsic motivation as good people will rise to the responsibility to excel.
- Give me feedback – not once a year but regular simple pieces – good job on that report, nice analysis – next time would be great to also include competitor aspects, client’s loved your materials. It’s Ok to give praise – they won’t put their feet up and feel that they do not need to work anymore. Also as you build their confidence they will be more receptive to those time when you need to feedback that the work needs improvement. In a balanced approach they will be getting both types of feedback rather than to often managers only do one or the other.
- Create a sense of purpose for me and my area – we all like to feel that what we are doing is worthwhile to someone.
- Celebrate success along the journey – pizza’s in the office, an award/prize (staff vote and judge), a thank you note, dinner certificate etc. This is one area we managers (me too) have often fallen down on as we move from one step to the next without pause for recognition of progress.
Now that’s a good start – see how it goes and remember to add your items (or even post a comment below for others to see).