Everyone has heard that old cliché people quit a boss not a company. Which I think is still true but I think you can take that a step further and say people may quit a boss but they rarely quit a great manager or leader. I was talking to Walker’s CIO, Brian Kovacs, the other day. We were talking about the best way to manage and lead employees and he gave me his five keys to managing employees.
1. Listen. Far too often managers simply bark orders or talk to their employees only when something goes wrong. I also think when an employee comes to their manager, the manager quickly goes to problem solving mode instead of just taking a moment to listen. Sometimes the employee does not want or need you to solve the problem, they simply want you to listen.
“As a leader… I have always endeavored to listen to what each and every person in a discussion had to say before venturing my own opinion. Oftentimes, my own opinion will simply represent a consensus of what I heard in the discussion. I always remember the axiom: a leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”
2. Communicate. Managers need to challenge their employees and set appropriate expectations. Employees need to know what is expected of them and most want that sense of achievement that they set out to climb a mountain and they were able to get to the top. Good managers are able to determine the best ways to challenge their employees and the right buttons to push to motivate their employees. The difficult is challenging and motivating employees is not a one size fits all. Employees are challenged in different ways and that may change over the course of their career.
"Skill in the art of communication is crucial to a leader’s success. He can accomplish nothing unless he can communicate effectively."
3. Manage by walking around. Managers have to get out from behind their desk and make themselves visible. I hear managers complain about being so busy, they can’t possibly be away from their desk for more than a couple of minutes. I would argue if that is true, they aren’t doing their job. Part of management is getting out and getting in front of the employees. If a manager does not have time for this, they need to seriously re-consider their priorities. By taking time out of your day to show you care enough about them as an individual to stop by and ask how they are doing can go a long way in building a solid relationship.
"I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
4. Lead by example. Managers must walk the talk. It is often said that a reputation can take years to build and seconds to destroy. Managers must show themselves to be people of integrity and consistency in who they are and what they believe.
"A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not."
5. Build respect. I believe if managers do the first four things on the list, this fifth one will come. I heard someone ask once, "would you rather be feared or respected?" I believe respect is the answer to this question because if your employees respect you, they will be more likely to follow you wherever you are leading. This does not mean though that they cannot admit their mistakes. Part of being a great leader and manager is acknowledging when you screw something up and working to improve.
"Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong."
Let me leave you with one last quote. Too many people think of themselves as a boss, simply a person whose sole purpose is to get his employees to hit a certain goal, regardless of what it takes to get there. Organizations that have great leaders, not bosses, are the ones that have high degrees of employee loyalty and as I discussed in my previous blogs, have high degrees of customer loyalty and ultimately a more successful company.
“A boss creates fear, a leader confidence. A boss fixes blame, a leader corrects mistakes. A boss knows all, a leader asks questions. A boss makes work drudgery, a leader makes it interesting.”