Over the last 20 years, I’ve worked with managers and leaders who all had their own unique style. If the job of being a leader was easy there wouldn’t be 67,269 books written on the topic. Leader or company perfection is non-existent. There is no Nirvana in Corporate America — that’s why it’s called work! Simply put, leaders have to know their business and know people.
The below points are based on personal observations and unsolicited feedback from colleagues throughout my career. My goal was to take a realistic and common sense approach without exaggerated jargon. Translation: Almostanyone can condition themselves to be an efficient leader.
1. Don’t do surveys to measure employee engagement. Employees won’t believe that they’re confidential (even if they are) nor will they give you honest feedback.
2. Don’t create new policies just because of one negative employee experience. Deal with the (negative) employee individually but creating policies based on “what if” scenarios quickly contributes toward a discontented workforce.
3. Real employee engagement requires action from you, all managers and HR. Engagement is not a project that you work on and then put to bed. Engagement should be treated as a verb — a conditioned action that is continual and ongoing throughout the entire organization.
4. When you hire talented people, trust and empower them to do their jobs. You don’t have to be involved in every project nor do you need periodic updates, unless they need your support. This type of micro managing sends a message that you don’t trust your employees’ abilities.
5. Encourage new ideas from the entire company — even if the ideas never come to fruition. Employees who know their opinion is valued will be engaged. You want employees to challenge themselves, think and take risks. If an idea doesn’t work, explain why. By ignoring people and discounting ideas without an explanation, you will single-handedly lock them in a silo of fear. They’ll never speak up again for fear of being shot down and being looked upon negatively. Trust me.
6. Follow up skills. They’re easy — learn them. Don’t ignore the human beings who we call employees.
7. Communicate — with everyone! Employees want to be informed on company news and happenings. Whether it’s an intranet bulletin, e-mail, newsletter, company meeting — just do it. It’s painless and an informed employee is a positive step toward a happy employee.
8. Don’t be stingy with the “atta boys/girls” when warranted. Salary increases and bonuses are great, but it takes 2 minutes to tell someone they’ve done a great job and costs you nothing.
9. Don’t crush someone if they make a mistake by “blacklisting” them. Talk to them and coach them. They’re not going to destroy the business and they’ll gain priceless experience from a productive discussion.
This last one is the most important and will rarely, if ever, be confronted in the workplace. I’m beginning to believe that this little point is impossible to achieve simply due to human nature.
10. Leave your ego at the door. Do what’s best for the organization instead of your reputation or paycheck. When someone resigns from the company, don’t take it personally or hold a grudge. Get over yourself because no matter how good you think you are, there is always someone better.
About the Author:
Kimberly Roden is a Human Resources professional with over two decades of progressive experience with concentrations in leadership coaching, performance management and employee engagement. She believes in treating employees like adults and using creative solutions and ideas in the workplace instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach. Kimberly’s greatest accomplishment (and challenge!) in life is being a single mother to twins who are now in college. You can visit her blog, UnconventionalHR and connect with her on Twitter as @kimberly_roden.