It’s one thing to set up a business. But what happens when you reach the point at which you’re about to start hiring employees?
Many people end up in the position of being a manager without thinking about developing a management style or understanding how to handle the employees that are working for them.
Unfortunately the strategy of ‘muddling along’ can end up with an unstructured working environment and employees who are unproductive and dissatisfied. In this guest post, Nick Peacock, Managing Director of Ascendant Recruitment looks at the five signs that you might need to consider changing the way you’re handling your team.
1. You’re not an option when employees have questions.
Although you need to be capable of delegating on occasions, if your employees are too scared to come to you with questions then that’s not a good sign.
It may be that your employees find you unwilling to help or unable to offer solutions or perhaps you don’t listen.
Good communication is crucial to the success of any relationship. If you’re sensing a distance between you and your employees then you need to deal with this promptly. Make contact with them and ask questions about how they are finding their work and whether there are any issues they need help with. Make sure they know that you don’t expect them to be perfect and try to relate to them so that they feel comfortable coming to you with problems. If face to face isn’t working then it might be worth using an email approach instead.
2. Your employees don’t know exactly what they’re doing.
If you have employees who are arriving every day with a minor list of tasks to do, little idea of why they’re employed and who are spending a substantial part of the day trying to occupy themselves then they are not being managed properly.
You need to make it clear what the structure of the role is for your employees and be sure that they know what is expected from them, both in terms of being an employee of the company in general and of their own particular role. Set up regular meetings and assessments – most employees will appreciate knowing how well they’re doing, what they need to do to improve and what their prospects at the company are.
Remember, you don’t just need to wait for formal meetings to give feedback – it’s a good idea to give feedback as you go along which will help your employees to learn from their mistakes and keep them motivated when they have done something well.
3. You have a ‘blame culture’ and you don’t recognise achievement.
If you’re very focused on punishing employees when they get something wrong – particularly in public – then this will result in people being afraid to make mistakes and simply doing the minimum to get by rather than actually getting the most out of their jobs. If you find that someone has made an error then speak to them privately and, as well as highlighting the mistake, give them constructive ways to fix the problem or avoid making the same mistake again.
If you notice that there are employees who are doing particularly well or going beyond the call of duty then recognise the achievements, as this will serve to motivate the individual employee, as well as other employees who want to do similarly well.
Positive reinforcement is far more powerful as a management tool than punishment and criticism.
4. You’re never wrong – ever.
One person can’t be right all the time and listening to your employees’ ideas can give you perspective that you otherwise wouldn’t see. If you don’t then you’re the boss who never listens to anything anyone else has to say and isn’t big enough to admit to making a mistake. If this is the example you’re setting then what do you expect from your employees other than to be similarly stubborn and obstructive?
Instead of ignoring employees because they’re junior – or simply not ‘you’ – learn to listen to them and consider what they have to say. A fully rounded manager will be able to encourage employees to speak up and contribute – you never know, their contribution could be the solution you’ve been looking for.
5. There is no focus on the future.
If your employees are just passing time to make money and go home as soon as the clock hits the end of the day then you’re unlikely to have a very committed workforce. If you don’t offer your employees something to aim for then you aren’t motivating them in the way that you should. Draw your employees into the business vision and get them excited about what the future holds, not just for the company but for them too.
Share plans with them, ask for their feedback, float ideas and make sure that they’re fully involved with where the business is going over the next five years. The more invested they are the more likely they will go above and beyond the call of duty to achieve organisation-wide success. If you’re reading the above and feel like one or more of these applies to you then it’s not the end of the world. If you’re willing to do so, it’s quite simple to reverse the effects of bad management.
Good employees can really turn a business around but you need to give them the vision and structure to succeed. Remember that your staff are your customers. They represent your business – they are your business – so the more they thrive, the more successful the business will be.
Nick Peacock is the Managing Director of Ascendant Recruitment an organisation delivering talent in Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire.