How To Help Your Employees Feel Less Like Machine Parts

August 8, 2016By
Conversations

How well do you get along with your employees?

One of the reasons I left my previous job to run Ghost Blog Writers full-time was the feeling that I didn’t have much control over what I was doing at my job.

Even at that time, though, I knew I had a pretty good job in a lot of ways.

There was flexibility in taking time off and for emergencies. The people were wonderful to work with. Many were friends both inside and outside the office. The management was really smart and talented with running a business and with dealing with people.

It was a great place yet I still felt the pull to have more control.

I don’t know if everyone feels that way, but according to some studies it is very common for people to want control over their situation. They don’t want to feel like machine parts.

Free Will

At some point in human history free will started to develop. People started asking why they needed to do things when told to or when compelled by others.

Today, free will is very much a part of our lives.

It’s not that we always want to control what others are doing. We simply want to have more control over our own lives.

So it’s human nature to want control over what you’re doing.

But in a job setting it’s difficult. There’s a trade off when you clock in at a job. You trade your labor for a paycheck.

That’s necessary to live and to provide for yourself and for others in your care.

But it can wear you down because you may have this inherent need for more control, for more autonomy.

Being The Boss

Now you’re our on your own. You’re the boss. You’re the entrepreneur. You have control over your situation and when someone is working for you there is a certain control you have over them.

This comes with challenges, however, because you want to treat your employees right. You want them to live full lives so they are happy working with you and with others at your company.

Find the right balance of building a business or a machine while not having employees feel constrained like they are machine parts is tricky.

Here are some tips for helping your employees feel more control over their lives so they don’t feel like machine parts.

Tip #1. Cede Control Of The Setting

Before we get into the tips for allowing employees more control it should be noted that everything is a balance with running a business. You can’t have someone doing crazy things on the behalf of your business. But in general I think you’ll find that employees won’t go too far. Most people are respectful. Most want some structure provided to them in their lives. But it’s not about entire control. It’s about finding the balance of providing structure while also ceding some control.

First, give your employees more control of the setting where they work. Provide options for where employees can work. If the setting becomes an issue look for ways to provide more structure for the employees that need it.

Today, it’s possible for people to perform a number of tasks from anywhere. They can work from home, the coffeeshop or in one big room at a cool new tech office.

If an office setting is best for your company maybe you can allow employees to have control over decorating their office. Let them create a setting that makes them feel good and feel productive.

Tip #2. Focus Less On The 9 to 5

Many jobs don’t require the traditional 9 to 5 hours. Many still do and that will probably always be the case. For some people it’s good to have the 9 to 5 structure. I still basically work the same 7 to 4 shift that I did when I was at my full-time job.

But you can allow for some leeway on the time. It’s possible for employees to have more control over the time they put in and provide great results. Some might provide better results working more hours. Others might perform best if they’re not putting in what’s considered a full 40 hours each week.

This reminds me of professional golf. There are some pros that perform their best when they play 30 events each year. There are others that perform their best when they play only 15 events each year.

Everyone is a little different. Allowing for some control on the time your employees put in can lead to better results. But obviously the results are what matters.

Tip #3. Encourage For System Improvement

One of the things that can frustrate employees is if they perform a task over and over feeling that the process is inefficient.

Something that seems to work in this situation is to foster a culture where employees are encouraged to look for innovation in everything they do. Tell each person that this is how the process is done…now. Tell them that it’s always encouraged for people to find better ways to do things.

This allows employees to feel more in control of what they’re doing each day. It allows them to feel like they control this aspect of their work and they’re contributing good things to the company and to themselves.

Usually in business settings each process was created for reasons. It’s important to have parameters on certain things. There might be a faster, but less safe way of doing something. Obviously that’s an instance where a parameter comes into play.

But encourage a culture of innovation with aspect of every process.

Tip #4. Offer Opportunities For Growth

Growth is something that many people seek in life. I know that one of the reasons I left my full-time job was that I wanted to have a potential higher ceiling on the money I could earn. I knew I might earn less than my job for a few years, but I knew the ceiling was higher.

Have you ever seen the show, Undercover Boss? That was a great show and I remember the CEO of Seven Eleven was on it once and he met with a worker at one of the stores and the worker expressed that he wanted to go to college and get a good job.

The CEO looked at him confused and the show later interviewed the CEO and he said that he felt bad because there were, at least in his mind, opportunities for employees to grow and advance within the company.

The problem was that the growth opportunities weren’t obvious to everyone in the company.

Talk to your employees about what they want from life and look for ways that they can achieve what they want within your company.

Tip #5. Provide Support & Understanding

Finally, it’s important to provide support and understanding to your employees. A business really is like a family and an important part of being a family member or a friend is being there to listen when someone has a concern.

First, make yourself available to those that work with you. Put your phone away. Close everything off and provide your attention. Don’t break meetings they setup with you. Be present.

When they come to you listen without prejudice to start. Let them finish and don’t interrupt them. Listen more than you speak and wait for the moments when they ask you questions. Provide your thoughts when they ask for them. Provide help when they ask for help.

Otherwise, just provide a listening ear and support them and show that you see their frustration.

Conclusion

As I wrote this post I realized that these things seem easy, but for some reason it’s not easy to implement them. I’ve tried, but as I wrote this it made me think of things I need to change at GBW and in my life in general. So I’ll be working on these tips because I believe they are good things to follow and review from time to time.