- Know your people!
Speak less – listen more: Good leaders are more ready to listen to what their employees have to say. Sometimes a lot can be learned by simply having the patience to listen to the people working for you. It’s much easier to manage a person you know at least a bit about. This brings less tension in your professional relationship and more understanding towards the person’s actions and thoughts.
For example, if you have an employee that is frequently late for work, and you know for a fact that this person has a kid, you are already in the position to conclude a possible reason for their lateness. This could help you approach them easily and have an open conversation with them that will almost certainly end with a resolution of the issue.
It is also smart to observe the relationships between the employees you are managing, if for example you are managing a team, the closer the people in the team are, the quicker the task will be handled. Friendship at work is a great way of self-motivation.
These are just tiny examples of the benefits a good listening skills might bring to you. It’s always good to be a good listener, but, hey, don’t forget to get involved in the conversation too.
- Be prepared for honesty.
This goes both ways! Be ready to hear words that might not be as pleasant as you thought – always keep in mind that every honest feedback from the people you manage must be considered a way to improve, rather than an insult. If your employee is ready to tell you something that they dislike about your work, your way of managing or anything else involving your professional qualities, this already means you have earned this person’s trust and respect. Stand tall on anything you are told and always show appreciation for receiving any feedback from anyone even if you are being criticized.
Be ready to be honest in return. Be transparent with the people you manage. Your goal is for them to improve and deliver the best of what they possibly can deliver – this means you need to keep them constantly in the loop in regards to their performance, however the last thing you want to do is sound criticizing towards them or anything else rather than strictly professional and concerned for their development. Usually, in big companies, employees development equals company development at some point. Make them aware of that. Help and support them, but avoid being a babysitter, you are not there for that.
- Deliver feedback “like a boss”!
It’s never easy to deliver feedback regardless if it’s positive or negative, especially if it’s negative. From my experience, I have had issues delivering positive feedback too – that sometimes can happen when someone did such a great job that you are afraid you might undermine their success in any way and “kill” their moment of happiness.
Delivering “a job well done” feedback: It really does depend on the person you will be talking to (here’s where knowing your people will support your way into this) how the conversation will go. However, if your employee has done a wonderful job on a project or a task you have given them, you are content and happy with their performance, hence – make sure they know this! Make sure they see your genuine reaction from the actions they have taken, tell them that you are proud if you find it an appropriate way to express yourself. Be prepared with details and ask them questions that can boost their confidence and sense of success.
Delivering the bad news: That’s one of the hardest tasks for any leader. Go directly to the point and avoid prolonging any wondering on the employee’s side. The quicker you deliver the news, the smoother the conversation will likely get throughout the meeting. Don’t hesitate to show feelings of sympathy or regret that the topic you are discussing is something negative for the other person. It depends a lot what do the bad news involve, if the person has made a mistake at the job, have they intentionally do anything harmful towards the company and/or themselves. The aforementioned will help you choose in what way to approach the person and how the meeting will end.
If you need to release a person from their duties however, it is another story and different rules may apply.
- Motivation is key.
What drives your team to perform in the best possible way? Are your employees motivated and why? Are they demotivated and why? These are the key questions you should be asking yourself weekly in order to identify any changes in the behaviour of your team.
What drives my team to perform well? Key component to support you in times of crisis. Look at the people working for you as a team. Is there a co-leader in the team that pushes everyone else to give their best? Is there an internal competition between the people in the team that helps them improve quicker than expected. Find out what’s the drive to great performance and take a note of it.
Identifying demotivation. Is there anyone in the team bringing negativity in the office? Is there anything that makes a general negative impact towards everyone (example – not enough space in the kitchen for everyone to have lunch, no coffee machine, no room or space to rest during breaks). The goal is to identify the possible reason for any negativity that might be causing general demotivation or at least general dissatisfaction with the work space.
The quicker you find out what spreads motivation and demotivation inside the your team, the quicker you will act on stopping any negativity or boosting any positive trends happening.
- Don’t wait – start now!
Don’t wait on your employees to approach you, seek your help or make an attempt to know you. Make yourself available for them, show them you are there to support them and be the one to make an attempt to know them – all this will automatically prove you are a good leader.
Start now! On being appreciative, being thankful, being more observant, more transperant!