As humans, we get fed up with the people working for us. We expect them to have the same drive and energy as we do, even though they don’t own the business. And we may despair that we can’t mould them into something closer to what we want.
Don’t despair. Often, it’s the owner, not the worker, who is the biggest problem, and a few personal changes can go a long way toward improving staff morale and engagement — and keep you from getting so frustrated by the people you manage. Consider the following four ideas.
1. Identify what’s most important
Often when managers find themselves frustrated with employees, they focus on small things rather than what needs to be accomplished.
While small things can become big problems, it’s important for business leaders to be clear with themselves about big-picture goals.
Take an employee who is chronically late. Now say that same employee is also your top sales person. Should you worry about the clock, when clearly the job results are helping you?
2. Set expectations
So many managers I coach express frustration over what their employees ‘lack’. But, when I ask them whether they have set expectations for their workers, they almost always admit they have not. You cannot expect your employees to be mind-readers.
While it’s incumbent upon employees to communicate with each other and with managers, it’s equally important for managers and owners to set measurable expectations and communicate them to employees.
3. Hold yourself and your employees accountable
Lack of accountability creates bad habits and mediocrity. If employees are not meeting expectations that have been clearly defined, address that immediately. If you put it off, you run several risks. The employee’s habit might be harder to break later.
You will create a bad office morale situation. And you can cause mutual resentment that can be toxic, particularly for an SME. What’s more, you have to lead by example. Admit your mistakes and hold yourself accountable. True leaders are not afraid to admit when they’re wrong and that commands respect.
4. Be more open with feedback
Employers and managers commonly use annual reviews for providing feedback to subordinates. Yet, formal yearly reviews are just that — a formality. The most productive feedback to employees is more organic and ongoing, where a job well-done is acknowledged and weak performance is addressed in real time.
This is a chance to lead by example by asking for feedback from your own employees.
Few managers think that it’s a good idea to solicit ongoing feedback from workers for fear it can break down the structured organisational hierarchy. However, managers can set the tone of how feedback is offered and received.
A common practice where feedback is offered in a professional manner for the purpose of increasing productivity for optimal results raises the level of internal communication and mutual respect.