Most people know what it’s like to work for a bad manager. They go to the office each morning with a sense of dread and anxiously watch the clock all day, hoping to avoid any interaction with their boss. The problem is so drastic that almost 50% of people, at some point in their careers, will quit their jobs in an effort to improve the overall quality of their lives. The harsh truth is that people don’t leave companies; they leave bad bosses.
For the last two decades, Gallup has studied performance at hundreds of companies and measured the engagement of 27 million employees and more than 2.5 million manager-led teams. No matter the industry, size or location, they found that all companies are struggling to unlock the mystery of why performance varies from one workgroup to the next. Performance fluctuates widely and unnecessarily in most companies, in no small part from the lack of consistency in how people are managed.
The findings from this study are crystal-clear: great managers consistently engage their teams to achieve outstanding performance. They create environments where employees take responsibility for their own – and their team’s – engagement and build workplaces that are engines of productivity and profitability.
But not every team is led by a great manager. In fact, managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units. So what can managers do to make the leap from merely average to mostly awesome?
Remember to manage each individual, not just your team
When you’re under pressure, it’s easy to forget that employees are unique individuals, with varying interests, abilities, goals, and styles of learning. But it’s important to customize your interactions with them. Ensure you understand what makes them tick before deciding to include them on a given project. Be available for one-on-one conversations and deliver lessons cued to individual needs. And when it comes to promotion, look past rigid competency models and career ladders for growth opportunities tailored to the ambitions and talents of each person.
Create an open environment for voicing ideas
Most employees value jobs that let them contribute and make a difference. You can help them by creating an environment where your people are empowered to propose changes to improve products, processes and procedures… as well as to voice concerns or frustrations. When you open communication lines to the point where your team members feel free to express themselves honestly, knowing that you’re listening – and that you care about what they’re saying – everyone involved will be inspired to achieve the highest levels of performance.
Offer praise, and give credit where credit is due
Great bosses are humble. They know that any success that comes from their team is not theirs to claim as a personal triumph, nor would they ever do so. Instead, they strive to instill a deep sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment in their individual team members. By giving your team the credit for carrying out a successful mission, you’re achieving two things: you’re telling them how much you appreciate their hard work, and you’re showing them, indirectly, that you believe their sense of self-worth is more important than your own. These actions can help your employees develop greater self-confidence – and have greater confidence in you as a manager.
Generate happiness in the workplace
Part of an amazing manager’s job is to ensure that employees find personal satisfaction in the workplace so that they’re inspired and excited to come to work and perform well every day. And free coffee isn’t the answer. Some things that can guarantee happier (and thus more engaged) employees are things like more flexible work schedules, on-the-job training programs, gym memberships or wellness programs… or even simpler things like casual dress policies, free lunch days, or surprise holiday events. The little things really do count… but the big things (like those flexible working hours) can really win the hearts and minds of your employees.