For the last few years it’s become apparent that there are some management issues in the work world.
Only about one-third of employees are engaged at work. It kills productivity and is also bad for the health of the employee and for their managers.
The employees are frustrated. The managers are frustrated.
If you’re a manager and you’re looking for ways to improve there are some things you can look at doing yourself that can fix the entire situation.
It’s natural to think that your employees are the issue, but before going down that road consider these changes first.
#1. Schedule Time To Meet Individually
An overarching theme in these three items is that people want purpose in their lives. They want purpose in both their work and their personal lives.
They want to contribute something. Money is obviously needed for a certain living standard, but purpose seems to have a higher importance to most everyone.
The first suggestions I have is to schedule time with each individual. Regular meetings just between the two of you.
What do you discuss at these meetings?
You can have agenda items like performance and things like that, but really make the time to just listen. Ask about anything they’re struggling with and really make it about how you can help them do their job better.
Most people want to do the best job possible. They want to really dive in on their strengths and improve their weaknesses.
Ask what they like doing or what they feel they do well. See if there are resources you can provide that help them do a better job.
Set a meeting for every six months. Every three months if possible.
#2. Help Individuals Feel Wanted & Needed
Setting the meeting from the previous point will be one step to making individuals feel wanted and needed, but there is more you can do also.
Part of having a purpose in life is knowing that what you’re doing is valued. It’s easy for employees to feel like they’re just a cog in a machine.
Obviously they may be a cog, but it’s up to you, the manager, to let them know just how important of a cog they are.
A manager I used to have, a really great manager, also was always having his team work on side projects. 90% probably never got past the curiosity stage, but about 10% would turn into bigger initiatives. He was always looking for the right projects for each individual.
He would tell us why he was choosing us. He focused on our strengths. He made us feel really wanted, needed and very important to the future of the company.
Nobody wants to feel replaceable (even if they are). It may seem like coddling, but it’s important to give positive feedback.
#3. Set Clear Expectations
Finally, sometimes a major issue between team member and manager is just a misunderstanding of expectations.
I’ll always point to the manager as the one responsible. It’s easy, as a manager, to get lost in all your work. You may not even realize that a team member has certain expectations.
Maybe they think they deserve to work on a certain project. Or maybe they expect you to meet with them every month individually. But they never express those expectations so you are clueless and their frustration builds and builds.
As the manager it’s your job to set clear expectations. What they should be working on and what you expect and what the employee can expect in return.
And use that regular meeting from #1 to ask if the employee feels any of their expectations aren’t being met.
Management of people doesn’t come naturally for a lot of people. Sometimes managers are put into that position because they’re really good at their craft and the only way for them to get a raise and promotion is to move into management.
Whatever the situation, it’s good to look for ways to improve as a manager. A big mindset shift is to focus on working for your team. Helping them to do the best job possible. You’re almost like a coach. Giving them what they need including the autonomy to do it themselves and not to micromanage.