How To Manage People In A Way That Brings Out Their Best
Only 39% of new managers receive any leadership training, leaving a large number of managers who are just “winging it” and trying their best. Needless to say, this approach has the unfortunate consequence of being a very poor support system for the team members these managers are in charge of overseeing, coaching, and developing.
Having a helpful and capable manager isn’t just a nice-to-have, either. 75% of employees say their boss is the worst part of their workplace and having a bad manager is also one of the most common reasons good employees quit.
To make sure that you’re not letting your employees down by being a subpar manager, here are some management strategies that’ll help you bring out the best in your employees (and yourself, while you’re at it):
Provide ways for them to use and showcase their strengths
One of the most common complaints among employees is that their talents are not being used effectively. Sometimes, this is the result of a mismatch between a job description and an employee’s skill set. In other cases, managers are simply unaware of their team members’ unique talents.
To bring out the best in your employees, ask specific questions: “What do you like best about your work?” “What skills do you have that are being underused?” “What aspects of your job aren’t working for you right now?” This gives you an opportunity to assess each team member’s strengths, weaknesses, and skill set. Use this knowledge to tailor opportunities to your employees’ unique strengths, and they will feel more motivated to give their best effort to their work.
Be open about your own strengths and weaknesses
Good managers are open and honest with their team. Yet 58% of workers say they would trust a complete stranger more than they trust their own boss. The first step in building trust is conducting a fearless self-assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses. Understanding the gaps in your own training or skill set is essential to growing as a manager. Then, share these strengths and weaknesses with your team. If you make a mistake, own up to it and look for solutions. Modeling this behavior for your employees makes them more likely to be honest with you and trust you enough to bring their best effort to the table.
Listen more, criticize less
As a manager, aim to spend more time listening than speaking or giving critical feedback. It’s easy to blame employees when there are unmet goals or deadlines or when some work goes uncompleted or is completed poorly. Most often, though, there’s a reason behind poor productivity or performance — and it’s often related to system-wide issues or broader problems than employee laziness. Taking the time to listen to your team members’ concerns allows you to advocate for them, understand what’s working and what’s not, and see whether or not they have the resources they need to accomplish what’s been asked of them. Next time there’s a problem, use empathy and your best listening skills. Your employees will thank you for it.
Invest in training opportunities
An astonishing 87% of Millennials say that career development opportunities are very important to them. Too often, managers focus on making their employees do the work that is in front of them right now, rather than looking for opportunities to help their employees grow. Part of bringing out the best in your employees is helping them grow in their skills, even if that means moving on from or extending outside of their current position. Taking a growth-oriented approach as a manager encourages employees to stay engaged and work hard. To facilitate this, keep an eye out for professional development opportunities that match your team members’ interests. Investing in their training pays dividends for employee retention and productivity.
Give recognition fairly and regularly
Many managers mistakenly believe that employees are only motivated by salary, yet 90% of employees say that recognition improves their engagement at work. The best part of recognition is that it’s easy to give! The important thing is to make recognition feel authentic, fair and timely. This can be as simple as a public shout-out at a team meeting: “Thanks to Maria for going above and beyond in troubleshooting the launch of our new client management software. We never would have gotten here without you.” Recognizing employees’ efforts through incentives can also be effective. Even small incentives, such as a pizza party, group outing, or company swag can boost performance.