A collaborative and productive work environment can hinge on how managers engage with employees. Watch out – seeming unapproachable could hinder your employees’ work.
There are some remarks many employees have heard bosses make – instead of lifting you up, they leave you feeling disgruntled and discontent:
“That’s an interesting suggestion, but we’re going to do it my way, not yours.”
“You worked overnight to finish the project? Well, of course you did, that’s your job.”
Upon hearing these, you might think twice about suggesting a new idea or volunteering to work overtime. If a boss has a bad attitude like this, it impacts productivity and dampens morale – be sure you’re not treating your employees in the same way.
ORC International reports via Unum that the UK ranks only 18th out of the 20 countries surveyed in terms of employee engagement. In fact, only 49% of employees feel valued at work – and two thirds of workers aren’t engaged, according to The Telegraph. These some ominous statistics, and they have some unsavory underlying causes.
“If you have a drill sergeant disguised as a manager, that is what you are going to have to fix first,” says Ron Thomas, on Talent Management and HR. No employee wants to work with someone who insists that it’s his way or the highway. Nick Tatchell, speaking with Forbes, says that leaders must abandon outdated ideas of “command and control.” It’s perhaps for this reason that 33% of workers feel negatively about their employers.
Mitch McCrimmon, on Management.Issues, explains the common problems managers have:
- Perceiving the process as asking for input as a weakness, rather than as a collaborative effort
- Naming faults more than highlighting successes, which will create a culture of fear and blame
- Delegating menial tasks, rather than responsibilities, which stifles motivation and innovation
Recognize Employees for Who They AreThere are ways around these habits. Richard Veal explains that, “The best leaders understand the importance of engaging employees at an emotional level.” By connecting with staff personally, you establish a mutual rapport – show compassion, and they’ll invest themselves in their work.
Leaders can do this by highlighting employees’ strengths and accomplishments to the entire organisation, demonstrating the tangible progress they’ve made. Make sure to brainstorm solutions with staff and think collectively to solve complex problems. When you make tangible use of their input, employees will work even harder to provide better suggestions.
The best part of personal engagement? It requires zero budget. But don’t shy away from tangible benefits, whether that takes the form of a bonus, an extra day’s leave, a fruit basket, or a round of drinks on Friday night.
But the far and away best way to engage with employees is to just talk to them – a lot. According to Bill Catelle and Richard Hadden, “people want to read mysteries, not live them.” Be transparent about your goals and clearly communicate your expectations.
HR Magazine explains that in years past, managers relied on annual staff surveys to measure engagement levels. But with new technologies, like apps that regularly survey the wellbeing of employees, your assessments can occur in real time. Something as simple as a smiley, sad, or angry face sent your way gives immediate feedback – and allows you to address issues before they escalate.
More than many realise, a manager’s attitude can completely determine the engagement of employees, which can help a company to sail – or sink. But by demonstrating that you value your employees, you can earn their genuine respect, help them work with pride, and propel your company to new and greater heights.
Click here to learn more about how improving the employee experience can help build your company brand and bolster productivity.
(Main image credit: Javier Rodríguez/flickr)