Management Success Tip #166: Want Engaged Employees? Listen and Learn!

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If you really want to insult someone, simply turn your back to them as they are talking to you. Be aware though, you may end up getting pulled rudely back around and even hit for such an act of disrespect.

What you may not realize, is that when you’re texting or answering your phone when an employee is talking to you, you’re engaging in the same disrespectful behavior. You are psychologically turning your back on them. More subtly, if you’re not giving your employee your full attention with your eyes as well as your ears, you are also “turning your back.”

Nothing is more important than not only listening to your employees, but also making it clear to them, by your attention and body language, that you are hearing them. “Employees are almost always telling their bosses how they feel, what they want or what they are doing, but sometimes this falls on deaf ears,” says Piera Palazzolo. “Make sure you listen and hear what your employees are saying to you. This will make you more attentive and caring as a manager, and will also help you know what your team is doing and how you can help them accomplish their goals.”

Isn’t that what you want? To know how your team is doing, and how you can best assist them in accomplishing their goals? When you do that, you end up with engaged, motivated employees who truly care about the company and strive for work-excellence.

Be a better-than-good manager. Join the ranks of the best. Listen and learn!

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Management Success Tip #146: Avoid “Garbage In, Garbage Out” Syndrome: Ask Your Employees Pertinent Questions

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You know the phrase “Garbage in, garbage out”? It refers to the idea that if you feed irrelevant material into a computer (or a person), all you’re going to get are irrelevant responses.

Just asking an employee “How’s it going?” is nice. It’s certainly better than ignoring your employee, or figuring you can see for yourself how it’s going, why bother asking. But it’s a benign case of “garbage in, garbage out.” You’re not going to get much out of that question, most of the time.

In the pursuit of making your employees happy, which will in turn improve your business’s productivity and profits, you definitely want to ask your employees for their thoughts, ideas and comments on what’s going on with their work. To get the most benefit from your questions, follow these two simple steps advocated by Brigadier General John Michel:

“Listen to other peopleʼs ideas, no matter how different they may be from your own:

Thereʼs ample evidence that the most imaginative and valuable ideas tend not to come from the top of an organization, but from within an organization. Be open to others opinions; what you hear may make the difference between merely being good and ultimately becoming great.

“Ask great questions: The most effective leaders know they donʼt have all the answers. Instead, they constantly welcome and seek out new knowledge and insist on tapping into the curiosity and imaginations of those around them. Take it from Albert Einstein: “I have no special talent,” he claimed. “I am only passionately curious.” Be inquisitive. Help tap othersʼ hidden genius one wise question and courageous conversation at a time.”

Management Success Tip #128: Answer the Millennial Challenge: Allow Innovation and Give Feedback!

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Millennials are a challenge for many managers – even if you’re just one generation ahead of them. Much more so, often, if you’re a Boomer. Then we’re talking employees who seem to have come from different planets, not just different cohorts.

Which means you’re often hesitant to allow your Millennials much leeway. You’re more comfortable keeping them on a relatively short leash, doing just what you’ve asked them too, hopefully without too much complaining.

Ryan Currie, guest-posting at ThinDifference.com suggests your reluctance  may prevent you from benefiting from this generation as much as you could: “You’ll be shocked just how innovative and outside the box they can get if you give them room to take risks – reward your millennials for being outlandish, for having ‘big’ ideas, and for taking chances and they’ll impress you.”

Currie follows this up by stressing how very important feedback is to Millennials: “They don’t want you to micromanage and they don’t want to speak to you only at their biannual evaluation. They want you to take them to lunch and openly and honestly talk to them about their mistakes, their upcoming challenges, and what they’re doing right. They’re difficult to insult, those millennials, and that’s a good thing.”

There’s the answer: give your Millennials leeway to be innovative, and then talk to them, openly and honestly, about how that leeway is panning out. Your Millennial employees will feel empowered, and you won’t feel like you’re risking your company.

Management Success Tip #123: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!

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“Feel the fear and do it anyway” is a powerful phrase, generally attributed to author Susan Jeffers. Make no mistake about it: fear is powerful.

Fear is what prevents your employees from suggesting new projects or processes. Fear is what stands between your employees and their willingness to point out what isn’t working in the resources they’ve been allocated. Fear is what keeps your employees performing at levels below their best.

You, their manager, are not their therapist. It’s not up to you to go rooting around in your employees’ past or present lives for how various fears arose. Fortunately, you don’t need to.

What you do need, is to provide your employees with the antidote to fear: courage.

Courage is the ability to face the world, a situation, or a person, with confidence.  Courage is what enables your employees to speak up, speak out, and do what it takes to up the level of their contribution.

You instill courage in your employees by encouraging them. To encourage is literally, according to dictionary.com, “to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence.”

Simply put, you applaud your employees’ efforts, you notice the work done right, you never dismiss an idea as ridiculous or irrelevant, you make it not only safe, but desirable for your employees to come to you with new ideas, helpful criticism, in a word – their truth.

Then indeed, despite the fact that there maybe always be that slight tremor of fear in the face of the new, your employees will be able to “Feel the fear and do it anyway” to the increasing success of your business.

Management Success Tip #121: Bring Out the Best in Your Employees: Challenge Them How They Want to be Challenged!

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A happy employee is a fulfilled employee, one who feels satisfied that his or her talents are utilized to their fullest potential, as well as rewarded for such.

Now that’s good news for your business, because a happy employee is one who is motivated to high performance and productivity.

Yet a recent survey by Lee Hecht Harrison found that 62 percent of people say they often feel underutilized in their jobs. This is bad news for both employees and the companies they work for!

Help your employees find greater satisfaction, while improving your company stats, by tuning in to what will challenge your employees – according to them, which may not be the same things you think would bring out their best.

Laura Vanderkam suggests, for example that you:

Say yes a lot. If a team member proposes a project, chances are he or she is itching for a challenge. Figure out if there’s any way you can give the green light, even on a trial basis.

Push. Give people a little more authority with every project. Real responsibility — and the chance to fail or succeed — tends to bring out the hard worker in people.”

People work best and hardest at those projects they’ve had a hand in creating. A little “yes” and “push” goes a long way toward success for both them and your business.

Management Success Tip #102: Be a Smarter Leader: Heed Your Workers In the Trenches

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The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” has been shortened to “It takes a village” and often refers more generally to the now well-accepted truth that it takes more than one of us to accomplish anything of genuine significance.

Or, as team-building expert & Trailblaze founder David M. Dye so succinctly states:

“All of us are (usually) smarter than one of us. Crowdsourcing has demonstrated this truth in many ways. From Wikipedia to finding untapped veins of ore to locating a good moving company, the reality of collective intelligence is hard to ignore.

“The most knowledgeable, super-intelligent person on earth still only knows an infinitesimal amount compared to the sum of human knowledge.

“If you want to be a smarter leader: Stop trying to make all the decisions on your own and tap into the power of your team.

“The people with the most up-to-date knowledge for whatever your organization does are not the managers – they are the people doing the work.”

Huzzah! I can hear employees all over the nation applauding Dye’s last statement: the people in the trenches are the ones who know the most about what’s going on, and what needs to be going on, in your workplace.

Heed them. Ask your employees for their thoughts on how to make things better, what they need, how they think resources could be obtained, customers more satisfied, the lot.

You will not only benefit from the answers, you’ll have happier, more productive, more engaged, employees.

Management Success Tip #99: Engage Your Employees by Discovering Their Best Talents: Be Direct, Ask

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The Gallup Organization’s findings that 70% of employees are not engaged at work and the longer an employee stays with an organization the less engaged they become, is unhappy news for managers as well as employees, for the less engaged an employee is, the less their productivity and level of performance.

One of the key ways in which we engage, is by feeling productive–needed, worthwhile, contributing something of value. And sometimes, workers disengage simply because their job, their day-to-day, doesn’t allow them to offer what they feel they do best.

Claude Morelli, retired Superintendent/CEO of the Burnaby School District in British Columbia, currently an International Academic Advisor, suggests that management:

“Find out what your employees do best by considering–what they do best? How do they use their talents and strengths to do their best work? How can you as their leader place them in situations where they can do their best work?”

The easiest, most straightforward way to find out what your employees do best is to ask them. Ask what your workers feel are their strongest talents, how they feel these talents could be best used. Ask!

Employees feel valued when asked their opinion, especially when you then take action based on those opinions.

And a valued employee is an engaged employee.