10 simple tips for becoming a better manager
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
This advice is not earth-shattering and should not be new to anyone reading it. Nevertheless, these rather simple and common-sense tips should help you to be a better manager.
1. Follow the Golden Rule
Always treat employees the way you want to be treated. Few people enjoy or respond well to being ridiculed, embarrassed, humiliated, unappreciated, abused or bullied by their bosses.
So, why do it? Treating employees the way you want to be treated should pay immediate and lasting dividends.
2. Say thanks
Who doesn't want to hear "thank you" or know that their efforts are appreciated? No matter how much money employees make or what benefits they have, most employees want to know that someone recognizes their contributions on a personal level. Simply saying "thank you" with words or with words accompanied by actions (e.g., buying donuts or lunch or having a recognition event) almost always produces a greater return to the manager and to the company.
Employees who feel their manager appreciates their efforts usually are more productive, loyal and more willing to go that extra mile. And employees who feel appreciated are less likely to be problem employees, more likely to show up for work as scheduled and do their jobs, more likely to stay with you and are more likely to bring their concerns, when they have them, to their manager rather than a third party.
3. Get to know your employees
Managers who create a connection with their employees often are more successful on many levels and often have better, more loyal employees. One way to create that connection is to know some basic personal information about your employees.
For example, knowing your employees significant others' names, their children's names and maybe some of their outside interests indicates that you see them as people and not just as workers. Knowing this basic information allows you to have a safe personal conversation about something important to your employees and may create a connection and a sense of loyalty that may otherwise be missing. Your employees will take notice and should respond positively
4. Keep the door open
There are times when almost every employee has concerns and needs to talk to someone about those concerns. The person could be you or, alternatively, someone who doesn't have everyone's (yours and the company's) best interest in mind.
Don't you want a workplace environment in which your employees come to you first and give you the opportunity to address their concerns? Of course you do. If you have not discouraged your employees from bringing their concerns to you and you have demonstrated a willingness to listen and take appropriate action, your employees likely will give you that first the opportunity.
On the other hand, if you have implicitly or explicitly communicated or demonstrated to your employees that complaining to you or anyone else in the company may put their jobs in jeopardy or that complaining is a waste of time, you may be creating serious risks and problems for your employer and yourself. The investment of time it takes to do the right thing is minuscule compared to the time it will take to address problems created by a short-sighted approach of discouraging internal problem-solving.
5. Ask for help
No one knows or is expected to know all the answers to employee questions or the best way to address all employee problems and concerns. The key is knowing what you don't know and learning how to get the right answers.
There are layers of laws and regulations governing the employer-employee relationship, and they are constantly changing. Additionally, your company likely has numerous rules, policies and procedures, and the proper application of each is likely dependent upon the unique circumstances of the situation.
Staying abreast of all this information in addition to performing your primary job duties is a challenge. There is no shame in not knowing all the answers. There is shame in not asking for help when you don't know the answers. Knowing your limitations and asking for help demonstrates strength, not weakness.
6. Follow rules
You must set the example for your employees. Your words and actions likely have more impact on your employees' compliance with rules and standards than anything else. If you ignore and violate rules and standards, you are signaling to your employees that these rules and standards are not important to you and, in turn, the company.
Managers who ignore the conduct rules often create legal problems for themselves and their employers. Many employee legal claims are based on a manager's conduct that is, in almost all cases, contrary to company policy.
7. Enforce rules consistently
Most managers realize their employees expect and want them to enforce the rules. When managers don't enforce the rules, they lose the respect of the good employees. If you attempt to enforce different standards for employees doing the same job, your actions may give rise to claims of discrimination. Moreover, managers who fail to act for fear of creating a legal problem or because they do not know what to do often create the very problems they were trying to avoid.
Employees want and expect to be treated in a consistent manner when the circumstances are the same or similar. Consistent treatment between and among employees also helps lower the risk of discrimination claims — the vast majority of which are brought when employees in similar situations are treated differently.
8. Document your actions
Almost everyone has heard: document, document, document. But still many fail to do so. This common failure is often attributable to a personal lack of time or uncertainty about how to do it.
It is often said that if it is not in writing, it did not happen. In most cases it did happen, but the lack of documentation reduces the situation to a credibility contest between the manager and the employee. That credibility determination may be made by persons more aligned with your employees than you and the company.
Taking the time to document conversations, disciplinary actions and expectations at the time the events occur is usually the company's and your best evidence in any forum. The existence or absence of proper documentation often is the difference when challenges arise.
9. Don't retaliate
The law protects employees who make good-faith complaints about discrimination, harassment, their pay and safety issues, among other things. Retaliation is a natural reaction when someone believes they have been falsely accused of something.
Don't let your emotions rule the day. An employee who alleges discrimination and retaliation may lose the discrimination claim but prevail on the retaliation claim if it appears the company took action against the employee for making a good-faith complaint. Before taking action against someone who has made a complaint, take a deep breath and ask for help from someone with no emotional involvement.
10. Think before you send
More and more, emails, text messages, social media and other forms of electronic communications have taken the place of face-to-face conversations. With all the benefits of this technology, managers must be mindful that these communication methods can create damaging "smoking gun" evidence in an employee dispute.
As technology becomes more and more a part of everyday life, managers tend to relax and say things in emails and text messages that they would never say to someone's face or would never say if they knew others would find out about it. Unfortunately, many forget, don't realize or simply are not thinking when they send an electronic message that will reside on someone's hard drive, if not in hard copy, long after it was sent.
For this reason, before sending any email or text message or similar type communication, ask yourself, "Would I want this email or text to appear on the front page of the newspaper or to become part of a news story? Would I want my mother or significant other to read it?" If not, hit delete.
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