5 Steps to Bridging The "Employee-Manager" Gap
I was just recently moved into a management position at goBRANDgo!. Now, I know I am a bit of a novice when it comes to leading a team, but I’m finding that my vast experience as a non-management employee is helping me to bridge the gap between my old role and my new one.
For me, it really all begins with a value my father instilled in my siblings and I at a very young age; the idea of the Golden Rule. Treating others as you would like to be treated isn’t the only answer and this alone won’t make you a leader, but it is a great place to start.
Thinking about the values that helped shape my current management style also got me thinking about other parts of my work history. I decided to look back on all of my past employers or supervisors from a subordinate’s point of view and pinpoint the traits that I found most desirable in a leader.
Here are some of the common threads that I discovered:
1. Be willing to get your hands dirty
This is a big one. It affected me a lot more when I was younger and more impressionable, but it still rings true today. I found I was willing to work a lot harder for someone who was willing to get in the trenches with me. For me as a manager, this doesn’t mean completing tasks for my teammates or avoiding delegating. It is showing my team that I would never ask them to do something I am not willing to do myself. In its simplest form, leading by example.
2. Recognition and reward go a lot further a lot faster then discipline
I, personally, respond to positive reinforcement better than negative reinforcement. Discipline and public reprimands can cause me to shut down or even become resentful. The slightest positive recognition or public acknowledgement for my successes, on the other hand, help me attack the skills and tasks that I need to improve. As a manager, I try to be firm and be fair. I give recognition when and where it is honestly deserved and give constructive criticism that offers a means for my team to improve.
3. Give People REAL responsibility
Giving someone REAL responsibility doesn’t mean giving someone a greater number of tasks or tasks that are “more important”. It means putting your team in a position where they need to make real decisions and react to the consequences of those decisions. Letting people solve problems and devise solutions builds a stronger, more versatile work environment. Not only will your team members gain the confidence they need to do their work well independently, but this is a great way to harness your team’s true strengths. Overall delegating responsibility creates a more effective and efficient workplace.
WARNING!: Do not micromanage. Micromanaging will cause the reverse affect on all accounts.
4. If you fight for your employees they will fight for you
This may seem like an easy one, but I rarely remember encountering this attitude when I was a non-manager. The more you employees can feel that you, and in turn the company you are representing as a leader, care about them, the more they will care about their work.
Stick up for your team and protect them from things that can have a negative effect on their morale. The customer is alway right, right? Yes. Most of the time. Except when the customer is an over demanding jerk, asking the impossible, and putting a wrench in productivity. Keep a lookout for these situations on both an internally and externally. Choose your battles wisely and remember my first piece of advice, don’t ask you employees to do something you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself.
Remember, clients will come and go, but good team members are hard to come by and are worth fighting for. ALL of my favorite, hard-to-leave jobs were ones where my boss had my best interests at heart.
Last but not least is trust. Ultimately, trust is the cornerstone of respect and respect is the key to building a successful employee-manager relationship. Being open and honest with your team members will make them feel respected. In turn, they will be open, honest and respectful to you.
These aren’t the be-all and end-all of good manager traits, but they are a good starting point. The most important thing to remember is that all of my advice is some variation of the Golden Rule. So feel free to apply my findings both in your work as a manager and in your daily life. I’ll be applying the Golden Rule at goBRANDgo! while I’m trying to find the bridge for the gap between my team member status and team leader status.