Managing your relationships with your employees is a challenging task. As a career manager myself, at one time as a manager of 1000s of employees for British Telecom, I have learnt a thing or two over the years. Including, as it were, what NOT to do.
I read that the secret to relationships of any kind is to be truthful and keep your commitments. I like the simplicity of this. Not only does it make it easy since you don’t have to remember what you told each particular person, but it also gives you direction on how to plan your time because you have to keep your commitments.
Upon reflection, however, I have sometimes not followed this simple advice. Considering this fact, I have prepared a simple list of things that can help you learn from my experience (read: mistakes) and be a better manager of people.
Here are 4 Mistakes Not to Make with Your Employees Today:
Mistake # 1: Trying to look like you have all the answers.
Like any relationship, the one with your employees is based mutual trust and loyalty. So managers think that to get their employees respect them they have to have all the answers. If you are always striving to appear like you can do it all and know it all, then you are eventually going to reveal the exact opposite. Instead of respect you were seeking, you can expect ridicule. Trust your employees to understand that you don’t know everything and be reasonable enough to work with you on a solution to the challenge. You’d be surprised how often this strengthens your working relationship and their respect of your leadership rather than damaging it.
Mistake #2: Not always telling the truth about how you feel about their performance.
Sometimes we see things that our employees are doing that we don’t like. Instead of telling them, however, we keep it to ourselves and start accumulating data or building a case as it were. Meanwhile, the employee thinks everything is fine. Instead, you should discuss your concerns at the outset with your direct report. Your dissatisfaction with an employee’s performance should never be a surprise. Furthermore, should it come to the point where you need to take action, the employee should never be blindsided by the news. If you are honest with them from the beginning about how you feel about their performance, everyone has a chance to fix it before the behavior gets too far down the road, a road that can end in workplace stress, angst–and in some cases, court.
Mistake #3: Over promising and under delivering.
Avoid the overcommitment pitfall. It’s important with your employees that you always keep your commitments. Reliability is essential to conveying that you believe they are important and valued members of the team. Some managers will overcommit to a project or a reward system, which later is dropped or forgotten. Many times, this kind of behavior occurs because you want to impress others. I have found that what impresses people the most is when you tell them what you are going to do, and then you do it, every time. There is an old saying that says, “Under promise and over deliver.” I would argue that this is not only a great strategy for customers, but also for your customers. Try the same strategy with your employees and see how effective it is for building a cohesive team.
Mistake #4: Forgetting to appreciate the little things.
Do you like it when no one notices all the things you do right and instead only point out all the things you didn’t? Well, neither do employees. Being appreciated is one of the most motivating things for employees. Sure money is great, but a simple accolade or recognition for a job well done is often just as effective at positively motivating your team. Be sure to notice many of the little things that your team does right and mention them out loud, whether you say it at a meeting, email them directly or even write them a handwritten note.
Employee Engagement promotes the concept that employees that believe in the brand promise of the organization they work for are more likely to work harder to deliver on that promise. Not only that, employee engagement is a key aspect for the Customer Experience. If you want the kind of employees that are going to make the customer’s day, that are going to build a relationship of trust and loyalty, that do what they say they are going to do for the customer and then do it, you must show them that in how you treat them.
Manage your employee’s relationships better by not making these mistakes, and you are likely to have the kind of employees that will deliver on the brand promise you make to your customers. In today’s globalized economy where the next great competitive battleground is going to be fought on customer experience, having engaged employees will separate the brands with a strong future from those that had a strong past.
Do you have any other mistakes to avoid? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.
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Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker. To read more from Colin on LinkedIn, connect with him by clicking the follow button above or below. If you would like to follow Beyond Philosophy click here
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