I’ve written on a few occasions regarding people management because I feel strongly that a supervisor’s approach to their staff relationships makes all the difference in their employees’ job satisfaction, career progression, and ultimately with the amount of turnover the firm experiences. The cost to replace an employee is 1.5 to 2 times their salary, so improving management skills, which will boost morale and retention, is also profitable for the firm! While many of us were not born to manage people, if we have an interest in being a good manager and want to enhance on our abilities, many people management skills can be taught and learned!
Here are a few starting places for anyone who manages others:
“Own” employee management – top to bottom. When we talk about “ownership,” it means being completely responsible for the outcome – good or bad – for the “thing” you own. With regard to employee management, this includes performance management (quarterly meetings or as situations arise, ideally), career guidance, goal-setting, and day-to-day assistance as required. Your role as manager is to help your employees succeed to the best of their ability in their role. This may seem daunting, but when you truly strive to do well as a manager and treat your employees with the respect and care they desire, they will reward you with their best effort, too!
Set expectations upfront. When your team doesn’t know what is expected of them, they have no choice but to “make up” the rules. Strive to communicate clearly and precisely (not “soon” but “by Tuesday”). If they aren’t meeting your expectations in a certain area or areas, have a gut check first to discern whether or not you made your expectations clear to them. Give your employees the benefit of the doubt and think of “hopeful” interpretations to a performance management issue. Remember to give yourself the freedom to be imperfect as you learn to implement new rules, too!
Be honest now. Along those same lines, it’s important for managers to be honest with their employees and have conversations about their concerns – versus a common mistake of avoiding “hard” conversations and simply giving up on the employee without gaining the complete picture. Many issues can be cleared up with a simple conversation and may not need to be escalated or “blown up” in your mind. Your goal is to come from a genuine care for the best outcome for the individual and your team.
Listen to input. You may “know best,” but be careful not to steamroll and stifle feedback from your team. Who doesn’t want to feel heard? I do – and so do your employees! Be open to suggestions or feedback about policies, procedures, or the “standard” way of doing things. There may be a win-win for everyone involved if you aren’t set on doing things your way.
Have empathy. Even if your personality is not naturally empathetic, work to look at each situation from the other individual’s viewpoint. Putting yourself in another’s shoes will likely influence what you do or say next. People management is ultimately about you and your connection with another person. There is always another side to any situation and, as a manager, you must be okay with the fact that people are flawed. You probably won’t get “perfect” results right away – or perhaps ever. Employing empathy can take patience and practice, but it will be worth the additional insight you’ll gain and also likely lead to better relationships with your staff members.