While this article is intended for business leaders such as supervisors, managers and owners, every employee can be a leader in what they do or how they interact with others.
Your ability, motivation, and attitude determines your influence more than a title or position ever will.
Dear Management …
It’s the end of April and we’ve just finished the first quarter performance evaluations – a dreaded but time-honoured tradition of making every employee feel like they’re going to lose their job. When I used to walk out of mine, I’d breathe a sigh of relief knowing that, by your good graces, I get to stay a little longer.
But what if the tables were turned? What if instead we got to ask you those same questions about performance, commitment, teamwork and character? How would you do? Would you still have your job?
If you treat your staff right, you’ll get the results you want. Every manager knows when a job is done well, but do they give respect by recognising the team or individual who did it? Or do they instead assume their employees know and say nothing?
That’s the difference between a manager and a leader; every leader knows that real respect isn’t an entitlement based on a position of authority or a job title. No, the timeless “Do to others what you would like them to do to you” applies to everyone, equally. And real respect will always be given based on how you measure up to that golden rule.
Stick to the guidelines in this Performance Improvement Plan for Management and it’s plain sailing ahead.
Lead by example – Be the perfect example of the qualities and traits you expect from others, whether they’re clients, employees or employers. Do you expect honesty? Then always be honest. Do you expect us to work hard? Then work harder than we do.
Be humble – Never expect anyone to care about your great education, what you’ve done or where you’ve worked. Show-offs and egotists are boring and avoided, so avoid self-promotion and attention-seeking. It’s obnoxious and damages your reputation.
Be committed – As a leader we expect you to walk alongside us and work with the team. Willingly get in the trenches and get your hands dirty. Get off the phone and get out of your office! Come and see what we’re doing (not just the junior managers, but the cleaners too). Talk to us and learn our names so that when we see each other in the hall, you can address us by name. Ask how things are going. Ask how you can help. Ask for our input or advice.
Help others succeed and advance – Always focus on encouraging, complimenting and promoting us. Help us focus on possibilities and find new perspectives. Give us options for development and advancement. Great leaders help others to shine because they’re confident enough to step out of the spotlight.
Be a teacher or mentor – The best will leave if you don’t invest in their future (this goes way beyond paychecks, bonuses and raises). Compliment the bright, hardworking, dedicated, reliable and creative, those who have skill sets that you don’t, and those who show potential. Mentor them and support programs that allow them to earn a new skill certification or degree.
Balance delegating and being hands-on – An over-delegator is seen as avoiding responsibility, but a control-freak is discouraging, sending out the message that you don’t trust us or value our input, knowledge and experience. Find the middle ground.
Inspire creativity – Support us with new ideas. Encourage us to take calculated risks and don’t punish us if things don’t work out. We’re all responsible for creating an environment that is open to ideas and possibilities, where everyone is expected to participate and where nothing is superficially wrong.
Expect encouragingly – We need to know what you want from us so you can tick the box that says “meets and exceeds expectations”. Help your employees succeed by letting them know what’s expected of them.
Reward success – Celebrate the smallest successes. Something as insignificant as a personal handwritten note, a lunch out or a small gift is a good start, but an employee reward program would be better. We want to be acknowledged for a job well done and will appreciate being recognised for it.
Build partnerships – We can be your greatest asset if you treat us that way. So stop thinking of us as a cost and start thinking of us as dedicated partners in the company’s future success.
Questions & Answers
I have an interview and I’m not sure what to wear. Suggestions? Thoughts?
Last summer, I was invited to a midday meeting and based on background research, I dressed conservatively and somewhat formally. It was completely inappropriate. By the time we’d finished, I was sweating profusely, needing to loosen my tie just to breathe. Why? It was a walk-and-talk and he was an aggressive businessman, so it was an aggressive walk. The right clothes depend on who they are, the venue, and the meeting’s purpose, but they need to be both cool and comfortable for you and a subtle reflection of your personality. RULE OF THUMB: Think of an interview as a blind date.
I work at a large company where I manage several workstreams. Some group participants are older, with more experience and seniority, and I often feel a lack of respect towards me and my leadership.
A fairly common mistake that leaders make is not listening to and learning from their team. More experienced employees are one of the best resources at the team’s disposal. They’ve been with the company (and often in the industry) for years and they’ve already seen and done everything, including how a problem has developed, how it was handled, and what did and didn’t work and why. When projects don’t go the way we plan, get them team-focused (use the pronoun ‘we’ a lot), facilitate the group’s combined efforts, and ask them what we need to do and what we need to do better.