By Stacey Thompson
More often than not, the average employee views management in a negative light. Feared, resented, or even reviled, bosses are seen as cruel, unfeeling taskmasters that care only for the bottom line and will readily sacrifice any of the rank and file to attain their objectives.
This culture of hating on the management can go two ways: either employees aspire for these positions in order to propagate the perceived cycle of tyranny, or they will not make the effort to become better workers, seeing that promotion will only turn them into the same monsters they so despise. Neither of these attitudes does justice to the employees, the management, or the company they work in, for that matter.
In the case of companies, I firmly believe that the culture is propagated from the top down. This places the responsibility of maintaining a prosperous and positive work environment squarely on the shoulders of the managers and supervisors. Just as bad habits and mentalities spring from negative examples provided by the people on top, productive and motivational attitudes are spread by good bosses.
Many people have plenty of theories on what managers should be doing to keep their people motivated, happy, and productive. In my own experiences as both a subordinate and as a manager, I can summarize all these lessons into four pieces of advice:
Open Lines of Communication
No amount of mutual understanding and teamwork will happen if the boss doesn’t even talk with his/her subordinates. This isn’t limited to meetings or official office correspondence; the ability to be able to shoot the breeze with the troops at the water cooler is an important ability to have, if you want to be an exemplary manager of people. It will give you more insights on what motivates (and de-motivates) your people, and in turn, it will humanize you in their perceptions. You’ll cease to be a cruel monster in their eyes, and that can’t be all bad.
Try smiling a little more, too
Though you want to appear a tad more friendly and approachable, do not overdo this, either. Being too chummy with your subordinates will often result in them respecting you less, and your ability to reprimand or correct them will be severely hindered. This does make things lonelier at the top, but remember, this is for the sake of all of your livelihoods.
Give Them a Chance to Shine
You shouldn’t be taking all the glory and credit for yourself, either. This is probably one of the fastest ways to lose favor with your constituents. When they do something above and beyond the call of duty, or have stayed consistently productive and cooperative, give them due praise, and possibly even a material bonus. Let the entire team know when one or more of them have done well, and if your own boss recognizes your team’s accomplishments, let them know where the credit should go.
Allowing them to take the lead and enjoy the benefits of their own achievements will inspire them to work more effectively, and it will give them lessons that will be of use to them when they become managers and supervisors themselves.
Be The Final Word
The two previous bits of advice portray a softer, more yielding kind of management strategy. One cannot be a boss without putting one’s foot down, however. The final lesson on being the boss your people can respect involves being the authority within the team or organization. You are the go-to guy/gal when they want a decision made, the King Solomon that will decide who gets the baby, so to speak.
As a leader, it is on you to set clear goals for you and your team, and you have to be firm when it comes to these things. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to change your mind; it means that you will only do so if your colleagues make a strong enough case for an alternative, or if you yourself have evaluated the factors and have found that a course alteration is in order.
Are you an effective boss? What are your strategies for leadership?
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While that question should not be too hard to answer, you may in fact find many people who have trouble quickly saying yes or no. In many cases, they may need time to add up all the factors that go into answering such a direct question. So, let’s take a minute to look at some factors that could influence your ability to answer such a question. Among them:
* Are you making more money in your job than you were last year at this time?
* Are you putting in the same amount of hours, less, or possibly more hours?
* Are you advancing up the career ladder at work? If not, what do you see as a reasonable timetable for such a move?
* Are you being given more responsibility in the workplace? If so, do you feel it could lead to the above mentioned career move?
* Are you feeling more secure in your role or do you think a layoff or even firing could rear its ugly head?
Many Workers End Up Being Complacent
With a number of factors to consider, just where is your career today from where it was a year ago?
For many workers, they are just happy to have a job in today’s challenging economic climate, worried that even asking for a raise could lead them to an early exit to the unemployment line. Many of those same workers also fear that complaining about conditions at work could also land them in trouble.
In the event you have been self-employed for a year or more, how does your business stack up today to where it was last year at this time?
Have you taken on additional clients? Have you been able to either break even or even make a degree of profit from a year ago? Lastly, have you gotten to the point where you’re not having to put in 60 to 80 hours a week to get the job done?
Whether you work for others or yourself, it is a good idea from time to time to conduct an assessment of just where you are in your career.
To just go through the motions does you no good, nor will it do anything positive for your employer.
Be cognizant of where your career is going, not afraid to ask if you are better off now than you were a year ago.
Photo credit: indigoheron.com
About the Author: With 23 years’ writing experience, Dave Thomas covers a variety of business topics, including how to find the best used cubicles for your office space.
Entrepreneurs are a bizarre lot.
The lone wolf mentality that enables them to strike out into the unknown can also be one of their greatest impediments to growth. There is a certain egomania and self-assurance at work in their make-up that helps the entrepreneur weather emotional, financial and other figurative storms in their lives as they press on toward a goal that sometimes only they can see.
They are resilient, resourceful and sometimes stubborn. They have to be, in order to protect their vision and dream.
But the best and most successful entrepreneurs have figured out how to balance their “independence trait” with the ability to accept help when it is needed. They have learned how to be “strategically weak” so that they can become even stronger and more capable in the long run.
There’s a saying that pride goeth before a fall, and in the case of those who haven’t learned how to ask for help, this saying especially applies.
Pride restricts. Pride reduces options. Pride weakens.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” ~ C. S. Lewis
This is an important distinction when understanding esteem, worthiness and what you bring to the table during any ask for help. Sometimes the ask is framed as a “value proposition,” which is just a shiny term for energy exchange. Whether approaching a vendor, investor or potential client, you must balance what you get for what you give/offer.
The law of reciprocity is social physics.
However, this law also applies when asking for help. Understand that at every point at which you ask for help from someone, you yourself have something of value to offer. With this in mind, here are some suggestions when you wish to ask for help:
• Have a solid understanding of your strengths and capacity
• Be willing to offer those as “collateral” to the person/entity from whom you are asking help
• Don’t apologize for needing help
• Learn from the person/entity who offers help
• Pay it forward
The paradox is that we are at once at our weakest and our strongest when both accepting and offering help. It is a privilege to be both giver and receiver. Once you understand the physics of exchange, you will see that each participant in the equation benefits and expands.
“The dynamism / of like meeting like expands / both bodies in turn.” ~ MCK, Haiku
Letting people help you gives you a chance to strengthen yourself; allows a “stronger” person to give back into the karmaic exchange of energy and all benefit from the repercussions of the transaction. Have you ever helped someone else? Has anyone helped you? What was the result? How did you benefit?
Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation) or “Like” them on facebook.