A very smart man once said, “What people think of you is none of your business”.
This is all well and good if we’re talking about your friend’s wife who thinks you’re a bit of an ass, but not really applicable if you’re a senior manager with concerns about your reputation.
It is basic human nature to wonder what people are saying about you when you’re not around. When you’re the boss, it’s valuable information to have in your possession. You can sit across the desk from a team member during a review, or enjoy day-to-day functional communication, but that’s only one side of the coin. What is communicated at the pub after a few pints of ale is probably closer to the truth.
Let’s be frank. You can be the Emperor of Superior People Management with a degree in Awesome and a diploma in Splendid, but you will never make all the people happy all the time. So let’s just put that out there – trying to be all things to everyone will result in resounding failure and stress-related hair loss.
However, if your position of leadership does matter to you, and you want to make sure that those post-beer conversations about you are generally positive, then let’s see how to make that happen.
Give them no reason not to perform.
A critical error that managers make is to overload their staff. This is the fastest and most effective way to really upset your team and suck all the joy and enthusiasm out of their day. An interesting study into The Productivity of Working hours showed empirically that a longer working week does not equate with higher output. In fact, output at 70 hours per week differed very little from output at 56 hours per week. Basically – those extra 14 hours were a complete waste of time. All you’ve accomplished is to alienate your team.
More than 50% of people leave their jobs because of their relationship with their manager. This means that you – as a person – are directly responsible for how you make your team feel. Keep your promises and commitments; prove yourself loyal, trustworthy, dependable, and honourable. These qualities are crucial in a leader, and will instil a sense of stability in your staff.
Be the gold standard.
Give them perspective.
A talented employee will be passionate and creative. When a great leader identifies this and offers them varied tasks which allows them to touch different operating units of the business, they will enjoy enormous job satisfaction and a holistic perspective.
Limiting your staff within little boxes – not allowing them to explore their interests and curiosity - is not only an effective demotivator but removes their capacity to see the big picture. Think of it as popping blinkers on them. A bird’s eye view of the organisation will also shed light on your responsibilities in relation to theirs, and is likely to add a layer of respect for the position that you occupy.
Share your job challenges with them.
The buck may stop with you, but ultimately you rely on your team to get the work done. You can display trust in your staff by sharing big-picture information. Use this time to highlight what your expectations are of them and how they fit in.
This creates a feeling of unity – of us.
It may also serve to highlight the difficulties that you face, as a manager. This humanising element is likely to go a long way toward fostering a healthy relationship with your staff. In the end, they may not like you, but they’ll have a healthy respect for you and your position.
Bring a feeling of company responsibility to the team.
A key strength of a great leader lies in their power to communicate effectively.
Clearly defining your strategy, generating buy-in, explaining the value of the various roles and how they fit into the ultimate goal creates accountability.
Nobody wants to be that guy who drops the ball. So if everyone knows and understands their individual roles then the chances of management taking the fall when things go wrong are slim.
Too many managers feel that they deserve the respect of their staff because of where their name appears in the organisational chart. And these are the same people who are dismayed when they discover what people really think about them after a couple of shots of chocolate vodka.
The bottom line is to work hard to really know your staff - and then to give them valuable career tools to enable them to become successful, upwardly mobile team members.
The Outperformer platform gives your staff these very tools. They are provided with access to mentors and innovative thinking which encourages them to align to the strategy of their organisation.
Help them to focus on their own success, and they won’t be focused on you. Visit www.theoutperformer.co and find out how.
Written by Adam Neyenhuys, Co-Founder of The Outperformer