What do employees want from a manager?

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Okay so we know you can’t read your employee’s minds, but we bet sometimes you wish you could.  People talk about being “engaged” or “in tune” with your employees like it’s a form of Zen-like understanding of the people under their  management.  Fortunately, this is not the case.  In order to manage and understand your employees, you must first understand the world as your employees sees it.  Too many managers only see a top-down view.  The dreaded annual performance review where employees are expected to be appraised, brought up to speed on the future of the business and (with some luck) take the opportunity to advise their manager how they’re feeling – well, it just doesn’t work does it? Management isn’t a one off event, it’s an on-going exchange of communication between a manager and her team members.

So what to do?  Well, with telepathy not yet an option we thought we’d provide some common sense approaches to management that we’ve seen work time and time again.  You’ll notice that pay rises are not included in our little list.  Pay is important but it only goes so far.  Higher wages won’t cause employees to automatically perform at a higher level. Getting a raise is like moving into a bigger house; soon, more becomes the new normal.  Commitment, work ethic and motivation are not based on pay.

If you want your employees to truly care about your business, these tips will help:

Goals

Who doesn’t like ticking off an item on a to do list?  That rush of serotonin produced by the satisfaction of completing something you’ve been putting off for days, weeks, months is addictive, and it’s a terrific way to keep your staff motivated.  Completing goals that contribute to the overall health of the business will align employees with their managers, and we strongly recommend using them as an effective tool for management.

We strongly recommend reading the book The Progress Principle, which outlines this concept in much more detail.

A Mission

Imagine the team working towards the recent skydive from space by the crazy Felix Baumgartner?  The focus, dedication and drive from the team that launched Felix up in to the heavens for him to skydive safely back down to Earth was helped by them all working towards one goal.  So what goal do all of the staff in your business all work towards?  It doesn’t have to be quite as grandiose as a 120,000 foot sky dive, but it should be something that your team can all understand and get behind.

Our goal here at Atlas, the software company behind Staff Squared, was to launch a successful product in 2012 and in the following years pivot the business into a full time product company.  The entire team gets this goal, they want to achieve it and they align their efforts accordingly.

Tell us your company goal in the comments below…

Consistency

A lot has been said about being consistent and we know it’s difficult.  A lot of managers suffer from something we like to call the recency effect.  This is a scenario where a manger only recalls the most recent work performed by an employee, especially around appraisal  time.  The upshot of this is that the manager may give an overly positive (or negative!) review of a staff member that is not in keeping with their  overall contribution.  This isn’t fair, and employees will soon begin to feel treated unfairly.

To address this, keep an ongoing list of goals for your staff that you measure them all against.  Track pay rises, to ensure that one employee isn’t constantly overlooked simply because they don’t complain about their pay.  Better still, consider implementing a performance ladder as a way of rewarding your staff fairly across the board.

A Future

All of your staff will at some point think about their future.  In our experience starting a family is usually a catalyst for this train of thought, and quite right too.  A man or woman with a family to consider will take a long hard look at their career prospects, and unless you’re working with them to ensure their job is not a dead end you’ll find them looking elsewhere.

This is of course more difficult in a smaller organisation, where you don’t wish to reduce a ridiculous number of hierarchies simply to cater for this need.  So instead ask your staff where they hope to be in the future, and see if you can work to move them in that direction.  And by direction, we’re not always talking a promotion.  Giving your staff the opportunity to take on additional scope, research projects or try their hand at a different type of role is equally as powerful as a promotion.

If it’s not possible to move your employees along in your business, do the right thing and think about where they might head in the event that they have outgrown you – they’ll reward you with loyalty and hard work during their time with you.

Shameless plug: Staff Squared, our HR software helps keep managers and their team in the loop and if used correctly will banish annual appraisals to a thing of the past.  Why not check out our free 30 day no obligation trial?

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