The following article is one that I wrote that recently appeared int he Fall issue of Management Today Magazine. You can download a digital version here.
Managers used to have it easy. They could tell people what to do and expect it to be done. Need a report due Monday morning? Employees will simply have to work all weekend. Need an underperforming employee to shape up? Shake a few fists and demand a better product.
Well, no more. Today’s employees want more than that. They want respect. They want a life.
As an executive coach working with senior leaders in Fortune 500 companies I have seen it many times: managers living in the past, fantasizing that what they say, goes. Today’s managers need to find new ways to relate to their employees that put them in control of their own careers.
Moving from a command-and-control style of management to one that empowers employees can virtually revolutionize a team.
Ask employees what their vision is. For decades, business leaders have been refining the visions of their companies and aligning employees to that vision. Today’s employees question why they should care. After all, what’s in it for them? Managers can tap into the enthusiasm of employees better by asking what their visions are for success. A salesperson may be acceptable at meeting quota, but he will come alive if he connects his quotas to his personal dreams of, say, taking on a leadership role in the company.
When employees understand how what’s best for the company aligns to their personal goals, they work with a sense of purpose, which is far more effective.
Leverage the strengths of each individual. Employees don’t want to be someone they’re not anymore. A job in which they have can’t be themselves can feel like a prison. A vice president I once worked with was so downtrodden due to the CEO’s insistence on a detailed, highly structured style that she almost left the company. This manager’s vivid imagination and creative mind needed to break free. Instead of losing this talented leader, the CEO was able to see the strengths of this VP and give her the latitude to do things her way. She was newly inspired and brought ideas and innovations to the company that dramatically improved its success.
Find out what your employees’ strengths are – how they perform naturally well, and how they prefer to work. Not only will your employees feel happier and build a sense of their personal value, you will get a better work product.
Know what your employees value, and value it too. Believe it or not, your deliverables are not the most important thing in your employees’ lives. Employees have families, hobbies, and service projects they care about. They are invested in making a difference with their lives. If you can connect with employees by asking them what’s important to them, they will tap into the strength of their values and bring a stronger sense of self to work.
Coach, don’t preach. Finally, break the habit of barking orders and telling people what to do. Coach them instead. Ask them what they need to be successful, and pose questions to help them find their own answers. You will find them to be more creative and resourceful when they know they are seen as capable leaders who can be trusted to learn what they need to learn to excel.
Ultimately, the way to revolutionize a team is to see the team as made up of individuals, just like you – with dreams and desires, valuable talents they want to use, ideals they care about, and the potential to learn. Managers who treat their workers don’t just have employees; they bring new leaders to life.
Related: Tips To Build Your Dream Team