Just 5 tips for managers to be able to hear what they would really like to hear from the teams:
(taken from a recent talk to a business owners network)
1. Embed the right culture and employer brand
Before we even start to try to get employees working to the best of their ability what have we actually done to ensure we have the right culture in the business? We might like the exercise of putting our business values into words and then having them printed on mouse mats and posters but which are the behaviours we role model and embed in day to day work? If we want to have a culture like Ryanair then fine, its a successful business, but if we want people to use their initiative and be creative then Ryanair does not have the right culture and leadership style for us.
2. Set clear expectations
Produce outcome based role profiles and agree the outcomes we are looking for from people. Gone are the days of turgid job descriptions. We can't complain when employees start to make the job fit their own view of the world if we have not been clear about the outcomes we expect. People don't have a crystal ball. I worked with one plc where the CEO kept everyone in the dark about objectives and then regularly shouted when people did not live up to expectations. The good news is that he isn't the CEO any longer.
3. Leniency erodes culture
Why do we avoid the "difficult" conversations? Hate conflict? Don't want to upset someone because they might leave? Usually because no one has actually guided the manager on how to have that conversation. It is obvious when someone tells you; we don't need special skills just a good structure for the conversation. The point is that if we don't do something about one person's poor performance or behaviour then everyone else will get demotivated. Then we end up with a whole load more trouble.
4. Trendy leadership theories
Ok every theory has a nugget of truth but really it's not rocket science. Leaders need some good techniques and a decent communication structure; ask questions, listen and involve people, delegate well. Its about doing a lot of the right things and minimising the wrong things.
5. Make sure employees know which level of initiative you want them to operate by:
1. Wait until told
2. Ask what to do
3. Recommend, then take action
4. Act, but advise at once
5. Act on own then routinely report
If you don't tell them you are expecting level 5 you will get a lower level and be disappointed. And if you don't tell them then they won't know. Crystal ball again.