1. Open Questions Ignite Inspiring Answers
Good questions help us do our jobs better. The business leader must ask the question that springboards change.
The question “what if” will open a variety of doors to different versions of the future. It is your essential tool for reinventing your organisation, reassessing your current circumstances using a more forward-looking set of variables, opening your mind to alternative interpretations of current circumstances. It realigns your employees to a new vision and rededicates everyone’s passion to a new mission.
The beauty of the open-ended “what if” question is that there is no right or wrong answer. It invites us to be wise, to experiment and to see things in a different light. Maybe to discard the old business model and take on a new enterprise that will carry you further into a more prosperous future.
2. Serving Your Employees Means Managing Your Boss
Sometimes you have to boss your boss – preferably without getting fired.
Bosses are just as obligated to take care of their people as you are obligated to take care of yours. It is not your job to judge or psychoanalyse your boss. Your job is to help your boss find a way to help you serve your team, even if it means changing certain disruptive behaviours.
If you’re working for a company committed to engagement, you can be certain that your boss is also under pressure from his boss to help you do your job well. If your team’s performance is measured by sale figures, and figures are going down – both of you know it, and so does the top management. So you’re both responsible for improving sales – let this form your basis for discussion as collaborators, rather than between master and slave.
3. Bad News Is Good News
Making your employees solve all their problems independently can do serious damage to the company.
You grow your organisation by growing your people. It is the manager’s responsibility to encourage employees to take on challenges independently, which often means making them do more than they think they can. But you also have to be privy to the happenings within your department. Which means you must be willing to hear all the bad news. Ironically, the more bad news you hear, the happier you should be about it.
The experience of arriving at a solution is a team effort and can be even considered a bonding project in itself. No single employee can have the answer to the problem, especially if the problem is particularly complicated. But the brainstorming brought to the table with group focus and group effort can bring up group brilliance.
The solution is not the only learnable point here. The manner which you handle the bad news will demonstrate to your people that their trust in you as their boss is well-placed. Keep your temper in check, resist the urge to blame, focus on the possible solutions, and walk your staff through the whole problem-solving experience.
4. Trivial Conversations Are Essential
Essential data is being exchanged during these seemingly wasted idle moments.
Some may complain that cubicles are counterproductive as they give employees little privacy. There are still others who retort that there’s still too much isolation at work. Every single cubicle represents a lost opportunity to share ideas and spontaneous strokes of genius that will propel a project forward.
As a manager, you should welcome all this happy chatter, as more work is being done through sharing inconsequential chit chat than you may realise. Stuff like:
- Who can be trusted?
- Who can open doors and facilitate meetings?
- Who can evangelise your project to the right people?
- Who can influence the management’s decisions?
- Who is an electrifying brainstormer?
- Who will lend a consoling ear in moments of panic or stress?
- Who sees the bright side of any kind of problem?
What you’re listening to is a conversation about trust, creativity, teamwork, process and progress.
5. The Way You Listen Speaks Volumes
A meeting with an angry employee is your chance to demonstrate your commitment to your people.
The trouble with running an engaged workplace is that people actually care about their work and what happens to the company. These people coming to you with issues or complaints also bring with them lots of history and baggage on how their ex-managers have let them down in the past. How you actually resolve the issue at hand may or may not satisfy them. But the way you listen to everything they have to say about the matter, and respectfully take action on it will help you solidify the bond of trust between your employees and yourself.
During the meeting:
- Listen hard and don’t speak until they have completed their say.
- Make sure you get it right by rephrasing what they have said in your own words and ask them if your understanding is correct.
- Clarify by asking additional questions.
- Promise them you’ll get back to them, and when you will do so.
- Keep your promise.
6. Crap Happens
You have to hang on to your own optimism for dear life.
When business hits a rough patch and things don’t go as you’ve expected, as a manager, you’re paid to hang in there, and to inspire your employees to stay the course as a team. This is the time for you to really show, as an engaging manager with a positive outlook, what you have in your resiliency toolkit.
Be resilient by:
- Keeping things in perspective – we’ve all had far worse days.
- Returning a sense of purpose to your team – restore the team’s commitment to the core meaning behind all the work done.
- Reviewing the marketplace and its needs – put your team back on the job to understanding what customers continue to need but still aren’t getting.
- Hanging on to your own self-esteem – do not start questioning your own abilities to make prudent decisions and wise business choices.
If you’re not pushing your own personal boundaries as a leader, you’re not letting your people know that it is fine for them to take calculated risks.
7. Engaged Employees Need To Know More
If you want your employees to give their all to their jobs, you must be willing to give your all to them.
Employee engagement promotes a sense of ownership among engaged employees. Thus they often have a compelling need to know what is going on throughout the company. They have a stake in the outcome of the company’s various projects, so they deserve to know how their efforts are paying off.
Keep your employees informed by:
- Making a point to let them know every single detail you can about what and how the business is doing.
- Telling them before they can find out through other avenues (like local tv, newspapers etc).
- Answering all questions fully and honestly, so they know they can trust you for accurate information.
- Letting them speak up freely without fear of reprisals. This way, you can respond to all concerns and correct any misconceptions.
Engaged employees are dedicated and will contribute their utmost to their jobs – in the company they trust.