Your Employee's Don't Need to be Managed
Saying that your employee's don't like to be managed may sound like an obvious statement. As managers we often have the mindset that employee's are always looking for an opportunity to goof off when your not looking. There is the thought process that any moment not being productive is a penny lost or a penny stolen. So to counteract this we micromanage or constantly create an atmosphere of employee's feeling frustrated with their situation and constantly wanting more. In other words, you may push away some really good people if you don't stop managing.
Micromanaging in itself is a crime against a productive office but we are not even talking about going that far. I am literally saying that from the initial stage of being a manager, the title is designed to create a rigid structure to the work place. Clock in at 8:30, 15 minute break at 10:15, lunch at 12:00, and back in at 12:30, and it goes on. Work is routine and heaven forbid someone be human for a 1 minute because that would be stealing from the company.
As I write this I know it may seem a bit overboard, but stop and think about it for a moment. What is commonly the purpose of management? Think about it...
It is to MANAGE the performance of the staff and tell them what is right and what is wrong.
This is not necessary. Unless your business is hiring nothing but 15 year old's working part time so they can go to the movies then you need to realize your you employee intelligent adult human beings. There is no reason to not trust them to come in, do their job, and satisfy a quality work day. If this is an issue then you have big problems and it's not your employee's. Its YOU!
Your Employee's Performance will Imitate YOUR Performance
Often where I see management fail is that employee's see their boss as a lazy ruthless dictator. "Who is this person that comes in late every day, takes a 2 hour lunch, and watches YouTube video's about fishing all day to tell me that I am not getting my reports done fast enough?" If this is your mentality then it is expected for people to under perform for you. What reason do they have to work harder? Besides the threat of losing their job which may not be the end of the world to them, you are not motivating anyone to do their best.
Leaders are the exact opposite. Leaders come in and get to work, they meet with the team, ask questions, give suggestive guidance, and then they go to work. A good leader treats their employee's as human beings who are intelligent enough to think and reason on matters. They trust that when they step away from the office that the work is getting done. In fact, they create an atmosphere where people have measurable goals to meet and they motivate them to hit those metrics.
Within any organization you can tell who the leaders are and who the managers are. Simply watching how the staff interacts with their direct supervisor shows either a team of individuals working together to achieve a common goal or a team that can't get out of the office fast enough. But, ultimately what dictates that reaction is how YOU perform on a day to day basis. And it does not necessarily mean you have to be one of those corporate tools that is first to start, last to leave types. I am almost never the first in the door and rarely the last to leave. But my staff always knows where I am. They know I might not be in my office but I am checking and responding to emails. I am on the phone with other business owners talking metrics, meeting with sales teams to improve performance, or even taking my time enjoying a cup of coffee while I do some meditation on the business.
And when I walk in the door, I hit the task list hard and work with purpose. To top it off, if my staff is not in the office at 8:30 I never get the urge to stand by their desk for when they eventually show up. I don't have to because I know that when they do show up it will be to get the job done. In fact, one of my best employee's is NEVER on time. But when she does eventually show up, she works her butt off and everyone loves working with her.
Generate Ownership & Leave Room for Mistakes
I strongly believe that as a Leader your main role is to delegate tasks and key roles to your staff. Then let them get to work and wait for the results. With my team we meet weekly as a whole to discuss how their projects went for the week. We address issues and concerns, and celebrate successes. I answer questions they may have guide them to reach the next level when I see fit. With some we meet everyday to go over key company reports so we all have a plan of action and an accountability. Beyond that, I don't bother my staff unless I want to see how their family trip was or what they thought of the new Fast and Furious movie.
What else is there to manage? By simply giving them the guidance and tools to do their job, I completely give them the right to be owners of their tasks and they get to work having complete control of the outcome. When obstacles arise they don't have to ask me for permission to fix it a certain way. Let them reason on the issue and address it the best way they see fit. Now if they can't figure it out or if it's a major issue, they know to come to me and we work it out as a TEAM not an individual.
Now there is one big risk here and you have to be ok with that. Your staff will make mistakes, sometime BIG ones. They will not always do things they way you would have done them. That is probably one of the biggest set backs for a manager to stop managing and start leading. That constant fear of what are the consequences if allow for mistakes? It is scary and you may have to step in a be the "manager" when a client calls in angry. That's ok. First of all, it's your job, but second of all, it leads to a great training opportunity for the staff.
Fix EFFICIANCY, Train CREATIVITY, and Receive EXCELLENCE
Ok, so mistakes happen. It sucks when they are big and hurt but that is life so embrace it for what it is. What is it you say? A great training opportunity. This is where I think we see a difference between a manager and a leader comes into play. This is not a moment to reprimand or threaten an employee with disciplinary action. Granted, there could be a situation that leads to that but the chances of it really being that bad is highly unlikely.
Instead of addressing the direct problem, address the root of the issue. Work it out as a team on how you would have handled the situation, how they could have handled it better, and leave it at that. Truth is, no matter whether the mistake is minor or major, they feel it worse than you do so why kick someone when they are down? Be the leader they expect you to be and pick them back up when they fall.
I included this mud run picture above for a reason. It is one of my favorite team building exercises. We don't finish the race unless everyone finishes the race. No one left behind. If you fall, I will carry you to the finish line.
When I see issues among my staff, instead of focusing directly on the problem in front of me, I focus on the root issue. How can I help you be more efficient with your work? How can I help you unlock the creativity holding you back? That is my main focus is to increase efficiency, increase creativity, and hope for excellence.
I dare you... no triple dog dare you to take a deep look at your management style for an honest evaluation. If you have a team of underperformers, take time to examine whether it's them or you. And even if it's not you, try to find ways you can be better at making them better and I have no doubt that you will see a big change in your teams performance.