Management Success Tip #106: Combat Employee Confusion and Apathy with Clear Expectations

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Confusion never serves. If your employees are unclear about how their jobs are to be done, how it is evaluated, or how it is rewarded, they cannot perform at their best.

Beyond that, confused employees tend to disengage emotionally and mentally from the job, leading to indifference and apathy. With that, performance and productivity automatically decline.

For example, Deep Nishar reports:

Recently at LinkedIn, a senior executive learned from an employee survey that people were unclear about how their performance was being measured. The executive took immediate corrective action. Within a week of receiving the data, he had pulled together a clear and detailed explanation and held a town hall to explain the performance management process clearly and transparently. The team’s results are now on the upswing.”

Be clear! Your employees and your business will thrive accordingly.

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Management Success Tip #105: Engage Your Employees With Honest Admission of Mistakes

Employees are engaged when you are trustworthy, authentic and straight-forward with them.

According to Julie Winkle Giulioni, two of the most powerful things you can say to employees that demonstrate your candor are:

I was wrong. When supervisors share their vulnerability and admit mistakes, it has a powerful effect on their employees. Rather than undermining respect or esteem, it actually inspires confidence. It creates an environment in which failure isn’t fatal, experimentation is encouraged, and problems are openly addressed, helping others learn and grow.

I’m sorry. Apologies are powerful… for both those on the giving and the receiving end. Recognizing a problem, misstep, or misunderstanding and correcting it is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard for many… which makes it all the more impactful. Apologizing when appropriate communicates your humanity and a sincere commitment to your relationship with others.”

Neither “I was wrong” nor “I’m sorry” make you appear weak or less authentic. On the contrary, your calm, factual accountability engenders respect, and encourages your employees to do the same.

Management Success Tip #104: Consider Off-Topic Employee Comments Without Tanking Your Meeting Agenda

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Sometimes, despite your best efforts at letting your team know ahead of time the meeting agenda and critical items to be discussed, inevitably, during the meeting a team member will bring up an issue or concern totally off topic.

Your initial impulse may very well be to squash the comment and move right along with the current agenda. However, do that enough, and you’ll have a number of unhappy, frustrated, employees who will eventually disengage from the team or project.

Instead, acknowledge your employee as suggested by Roger Schwarz:

“If the team has agreed on the topic to discuss and you still think that someone is off-track, say something like, “Lee, Iʼm not seeing how your point about outsourcing is related to the topic of our planning process. Help me understand, how are they related?” When Lee responds, you and other team members might learn about a connection between the two topics that you hadnʼt considered…If there is a connection, the team can decide whether it makes more sense to explore Leeʼs idea now or later. If it turns out that Leeʼs comment isnʼt related but is still relevant for the team, you can suggest placing it on a future agenda.”

By handling off-topic comments in this way, employees will feel valued, that their concerns and opinions matter, whether or not they can be dealt with in the moment.

The result? Happier employees, and meetings that are efficient and accomplish their stated goals.

Management Success Tip #103: A Performance-Enhancing Question to Ask Employees: Are You Happy?

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You may believe that asking your employees flat-out “Are you happy?” opens the floodgates to a litany of complaints, or would result in a confused “Uh, yeah” as in “Why are you asking? If I say ‘no’ will I get fired?” An exercise in futility, all around.

Wrong! Allison Rimm reports that leaders who ask their employees how they feel receive “priceless information that helps them retain their best employees and optimize their productivity.”

For example, according to Rimm:

“Daniel Parent, director of field human resources at video game retailer GameStop, has a recurring appointment on his schedule that says, “Ask employees how happy they are at work and what can I do to make them happier.” Daniel has learned over the years that simply asking those two questions indicates to his group that they have his support. Furthermore, he learns what their real issues are so he can provide them with meaningful direction.”

By asking this question, Daniel discovered that one of his employees was concerned about her ability to care for her new baby while maintaining her work performance, and together, Daniel and his employee came up with a mutually satisfactory arrangement.

Rimm concluded: “The small investment of time he [Daniel] makes in asking his employees how happy they are has paid off many times over when he considers what it would cost to replace any member of his team.”

Happy employees do indeed make for engaged, productive employees!