Managing Staff Without MistakesWRITTEN BY CHRISTINE CORELLI
Article Date: 01-01-2007
Copyright (C) 2007 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Some management practices lead to poor morale, low producicity, a stressful work environment, and ultimately customer dissatisfaction.
You got where you are today because you’re smart, hard-working, and determined, and you have the ability to lead. In the process of advancement, you’ve undoubtedly made your share of mistakes and had some failures. After all, truly successful people learn to scale the ropes without falling too far.
But some management mistakes can lead to poor morale, low productivity, a stressful work environment, and ultimately, customer dissatisfaction.
To manage your staff to its full potential, avoid the following 12 mistakes.
Failure to lead by example
The best way to motivate someone is to stimulate their desire to follow your lead. To do so, you must first gain their respect. Leading by example is critical.
Demonstrate your values, treat people fairly, show them you care about them as much as you care about your customers, and you’ll earn their trust.
Failure to ask questions and listen
Regular internal meetings, staff focus groups, and management advisory councils are always a good idea. In addition, make it a habit to get out from behind your desk and talk one-on-one with people to ask how they’re doing, whether they’re having any problems, and if there is anything you can do to help.
Ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. You’ll discover ideas, solutions to problems, and opportunities that, if acted upon, will increase the value you provide to your customers. You’ll find new ways to deliver a higher level of service, improve quality, boost employee morale, and drive business growth. This will, in turn, help you to grow and prosper.
Make it a habit to ask questions, such as:
To have a true team culture in your company, encourage your staff to come forward with ideas, problems and solutions. But if you don’t listen, your people will stop sharing their thoughts.
What have you been hearing from our customers?
How would you rate the level of service we provide?
What can we do to improve communication?
Have you had any problems or issues I should know about?
How is your team performing?
What are your thoughts?
Is there anything I can do to help you?
How can we solve this together?
Then listen with your ears and your eyes. Does the employee’s body language match what they’re saying? If not, you need to gently probe with the following questions:
Can you tell me more?
What, exactly, do you think happened?
What do you think might be holding things back?
Do you think someone dropped the ball?
Is there anything I should know?
Even worse, you’ll end up managing people who are going through the motions without putting their hearts and souls into their work. Why? Because they believe no one listens.
And remember to ask something as simple as, “How’s your family?” It lets your staff know you care about them as individuals.
Find just 20 minutes a day to talk one-on-one and it will have an impact.
Failure to communicate
Failing to keep your staff informed with honest and “open” communication is not in keeping with dynamic leadership.
Be sure to consistently communicate what direction the business is headed and why and the role they play in the success of the business. Tell them why it’s important to have their input and ideas, why they must believe in the company and the products it provides and why every interaction with a customer must be a positive experience. They should know that you appreciate their hard work, even if you don’t tell them every day.
Mistake # 4
Failure to motivate without fear
Motivate your staff by being a great coach. Bring out the best in your staff. Recognize, reward, encourage, appreciate and coach them. Think back to your school days: Was there a teacher who inspired you to reach your full potential? Help your staff reach their’s. Energize them with positive energy, and you’ll keep them. Make people feel they are working with you, and not for you.
Give credit where credit is due. Make sure your staff feels they are a critical part of your business. Show them you care as much about them as you care about your customers.
Failure to check assumptions
You’ll be making a big mistake if you simply assume your people are doing the right things. There’s a wide gap between micromanaging and making the broad assumption that everyone knows what to do and is doing it.
It’s your job to stay on top of things and oversee what your people are doing. If you don’t, and you simply assume everything is running smoothly, you could be in for trouble.
Explain that you’re not trying to micromanage and that you trust your staff, but, because you’re ultimately accountable, you need to keep a close eye on what’s going on.
Failure to encourage creativity
Many executives and managers destroy creativity by shooting down ideas or not involving their people in decision making. Today's business professionals need to stay creatively charged. If they aren't engaged, they will not be as productive.
Ignite the fire in them to use their creativity to come up with solutions to problems and ideas to help meet and exceed your goals. In addition to one-on-one contact, create an interdepartmental task force that includes individuals with diverse talents and styles; this diversity will stimulate discussion and energize the group. You'll be amazed with the strategic ideas these task force groups will present.
Eliminate "dead weight" or don't settle for mediocre performance. In today's highly competitive, fast-paced environment, you can't afford to settle for mediocre players on your team.
Confront any staff person who has a negative attitude or is not performing. Ask what you can do to help them to "step up to the plate." If you don't see improvement, give them a warning. Then, if you still don't see improvement, have the courage to remove them from your team.
Coach your average performers, and ignite the fire in them to put forth more effort. Rally your high-performers to your side and let them know how much you appreciate them.
Failure to train and develop people
Don't assume your staff is proficient in critical skill areas. If you don't train your people in customer service, sales, communication, computer skills, and teamwork, your business will suffer.
Encourage professional development and make training a priority for everyone.
Failure to be unprotected
If your assistant or a supervisor under you is telling your staff that anything they send you must first come through them, you could be headed for trouble. Be accessible.
Failure to hire the over-qualified
Downsizing, restructuring and outsourcing have left a great number of highly qualified people out of work. All too often, they are deemed "over-qualified," and don't get hired.
The reasoning behind this is usually that they will always be looking for a better job, they may resent less-experienced staff telling them what to do, or they may intimidate others with their degrees or experience.
On the contrary, these individuals are usually more productive, and they can hit the ground running. They can also help others develop more rapidly, and they can bring in new ideas to help you move forward. Don't avoid hiring over-qualified candidates. They could become valuable assets to your business.
Mistake # 10
Failure to admit a mistake
You may not always get the recognition you deserve for good decisions, but you'll always get noticed for the bad ones. No company or leader is perfect, but if you've made a mistake, admit it. A little vulnerability makes you human.
Failure to lighten up and have fun
Stress is rampant in most companies today. Implement methods to alleviate stress in the workplace. For example, organize a walking club during lunch. Encourage sports teams and events that include spouses and family. Have a quick huddle instead of a long meeting.
And don't forget to keep your own life in balance!
Failure to follow your instincts
Ultimately, you cannot be successful as a leader if you don't recognize and follow your own instincts. Tailor what is best for your staff based on what you would expect if you were one of them. Create a work environment where you would like to work. Strive for a superior sense of integrity.
Let your instincts serve as a guide for your decisions.
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