Throughout our careers, we experience many different personality types that influence our behaviours and professional personas. These encounters can often shape who we become as leaders, but have you taken the time to reflect on your management approach and considered how your team view your performance as a manager?
Whether you consider your leadership style as autocratic, democratic, transformational or laissez-faire, your ultimate aim is to keep your business running smoothly; which includes keeping your staff happy.
Love Energy Savings conducted a study on employee satisfaction, investigating how UK employees would rate the performance of their managers. The statistics were largely positive, with almost 50% of respondents rating their managers’ performance as good or excellent.
However, 20% of respondents claimed that they work with an inadequate manager. This would indicate that some managers are struggling to build a rapport with their employees, which could have an impact on staff loyalty, retention and ultimately affect their company’s bottom line.
We explore what managers are doing wrong and how they can alter behaviours to improve performance in the workplace…
Common mistakes managers can avoid
To better understand why so many workers are dissatisfied with their company’s management, we need to take a closer look at the root causes. There are many common issues that can be easily avoided, and if approached properly, can empower staff to perform to the best of their abilities.
1. Give your staff space to excel
When you have a lot of responsibilities as a manager, it’s only natural to want to get stuck in and make sure things are running smoothly. The danger here is that there’s a thin line between taking care and taking over.
Nobody likes to be micromanaged, and by doing so you’re advertising the fact that you don’t trust your team enough to let them do their jobs without supervision. By taking a step back and showing your employees that you trust them, they’ll feel empowered – after all, you hired them for a reason.
2. Show you value your staff
As a manager, your staff are your greatest asset, however, too many people take their employees for granted. Thinking of your business as a well-oiled machine may be a good way to visualise your day-to-day operations, but your team are more than just cogs.
Lucia Knight, a career satisfaction coach, says that “Many of the individuals I work with feel that no one really cares about their career within their organisation, just what’s needed from them”. She goes on to offer a simple solution to this: “a ten-minute real listening exercise can really nip some small problems in the bud before they become big problems in the future”.
By understanding what makes your team tick, you’ll be able to help them overcome any issues and excel in their careers.
3. Leave your ego at the door
When working in a position of authority, it’s crucial to make sure you’re not abusing your power. It can be all too easy to assume that you know best, after all, you are the boss.
Not only will staff morale plummet in the shadow of your ego, but you’ll lose your objectivity, which could lead to poor business decisions. Recognise that you have teams of intelligent and enthusiastic employees at your disposal, giving you a pool of expertise to put to good use.
Sue Andrews, Business and HR Consultant at KIS Finance, recognises the importance of listening to and understanding your team. She says that “Empathy is not always at the top of the list of characteristics that people see as essential in a good leader. But without the ability to place themselves in others’ shoes, and see the wider picture, leaders run the risk of taking an autocratic approach, which may eventually prove unpopular with those around them”.
What can managers do to inspire their staff?
Although managers can fall into bad habits, there are a number of ways to make sure you’re appropriately managing your employees. Love Energy Savings has published a guide listing the top 10 tips to inspire your staff. Here is some guidance on how you can ensure you’re enabling your employees to flourish.
1. Invest in your staff
Your employees are your strongest commodity, so it’s only right that you invest the time into helping them grow and develop their skills. Without proper attention, you’ll find your team will quickly stagnate if they’re not pushed to achieve their highest potential.
Let your staff get their hands on an exciting new task to flex their creative muscles and break the day-to-day monotony of their regular work. This will give them something new to try, as well as show them that you have faith in their abilities. It’s also crucial to make sure you put personal development plans into place – giving your employees the chance to have a say in how they want to progress and giving you the chance to say how you’ll help them achieve it. By investing in your staff, you’re helping to shape the future leaders of your organisation.
Mireille Harper, PR & Communications at Catalyst Collective, believes that a business’ success rests on how well it can adapt to new ideas. She says “In today’s rapidly changing and dynamic world, our companies need the value that diversity brings. Good leaders seek to find, promote, develop and champion those who’ve historically been excluded from leadership in the workplace”.
“Strong leaders can handle the ambiguity and creative tensions that come with diversity, and still foster an environment of inclusion, value and respect, where each person can show up at their best”.
2. Be Transparent
If you want your employees to respect you as a manager, you need to be open and honest with them. By creating a culture of communication, you’re empowering your staff to ask more questions and gain a better understanding of the direction of your business.
Showing your team that you’re all in it together is the quickest way to create a real connection – rekindling their sense of purpose and reminding them why they’re there.
3. Be a leader who inspires their team
Actions speak louder than words. Think about your own performance and how you’ve managed situations in the past. Take the time to reflect on your experiences: could you have seen better results if you had reacted differently to the situation?
Every failure and success story should be used as a learning experience to help your team reach new heights and avoid mistakes. Self-reflection helps you and your team develop and shows that you’re all working towards shared targets.
Bob Bradley, Managing Director and Founder of MD2MD, knows how inspiring your staff can help your business reap the benefits. He says “Business leaders have three choices. They can try to command hierarchical power, expert power, or respect power. The latter is the most effective for an organisation”.
“Leaders must have the ability to create willing followers. Naturally, in order to do this, they must create something tangible to follow: a shared vision, a common goal, a culture, and a way of working”.
Suzanne Haughton, Recruitment Consultant for Love Energy Savings, commented on the importance of managers keeping their staff inspired in the workplace.
“Making sure people feel involved and listened too is something that filters from the top down in our organisation and is a responsibility that every manager takes seriously.” Said Suzanne “Our CEO, Phil Foster is a great example of this. He’s currently in the middle of a project called ‘Food with Phil’; hosting sessions and bringing together teams from different departments; breaking down silos, learn about the organisation from the people on the front line and buying everyone lunch in return. Staff feel empowered, the business benefits and everyone gets fed.”