A smart employer knows that the biggest investment their business will ever make is in happy employees. As difficult as it can be to recruit and create a great team, that’s often the easy part. Successfully managing employees is what enables a company to grow and thrive.
Remember, your employees are real human beings with lives that extend well beyond the workplace. People with families, fears and a thousand outside influences which can impact (successfully or otherwise) their performance on the job.
Consider adding these soft skill strategies to your management style and make working in your business a happy experience for you and your employees.
Cultivate the time and ability to communicate
Multiple studies have found that leaders spending more time with their staff leads to consistently higher performance. After all, who wouldn’t go ‘above and beyond’ for a leader who has invested time and interest in their opinions? One-on-one time can be formal (such as training, or coaching), or informal (coffee/chat). Assisting employees to maintain focus, purpose and meaning in their work is intangible, but invaluable.
Eliminate a habit to ‘tick and flick.’
If an employee is falling short of their goals (stated or implicit), it’s the managers’ job to find out why. Instead of focusing on what they’re doing or not doing, zero in on what they’re achieving. Remember, life isn’t lived in a bubble, and it is wise to look at the big picture.
An employee who has the flexibility to leave work before five o’clock might need to go to care for sick children or to take a mental break at the end of a tough day. If you’re really worried about what’s happening ‘behind the scenes’, talk to HR, or raise your concerns with the employee. Rather than micro-managing, allow a valuable staff member some leeway, especially if they are performing at a satisfactory level.
Allow space at the campfire
Using only high-level executives or managers to set an agenda for the business is to ignore the voices of those who bring a different perspective.
Actively invite your employees to contribute at an executive level. One idea is to invite a different staff member to weekly/monthly executive meetings to participate in conversations about the direction the company is heading. You’ll find this is a good way to identify future leaders. Listening doesn’t just empower your employees, it generates respect and gives them a sense of ownership.
Remember, the further down the chain the opinion, the closer that opinion is to the customer.
Foster a culture of positive reinforcement
There are a few strategies to use to entrain a positive culture in your business:
- Praise good work.
- Don’t spend all day in your office with the door shut.
- Consider making it company policy for a manager to identify at least one employee a day to thank personally, and perhaps one a week or month to recognise publicly.
- Create an environment in which fun and social activities such as celebrating birthdays, weddings, etc. can flourish.
Take the holistic approach
The cost of absenteeism is well known to reduce continuity and even reduce morale. Investing in your workers’ physical and mental health is as important to your business as it is to them. Consider gym memberships, in-house yoga classes or weekly group walks.
You can create a greater sense of ownership by embracing a social conscience so ask workers what social cause they’d like to support. Fundraisers like staff barbecues or social events can raise money for charity and create a stronger bond between managers and employees. Consider matching the fundraising dollar-for-dollar to reinforce the company’s commitment to the cause.
Business growth is the goal
Richard Branson is famously quoted for saying, ‘Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.’
Improving your management by using soft skills is a fruitful place to start in cultivating healthy employee engagement in your business.