Almost everybody thinks he or she is a good manager. But according to a Gallup Poll, 25% of U.S. employees say they would fire their bosses if they could.
If you're curious about how you measure up, check out the following nine key managerial best practices. How many do you follow? Hopefully, all or most. But keep in mind that it's never too late to learn.
- Communicate the big picture. If you want your employees to work hard and be committed to your business, you've got to keep them in the loop. Open communication helps foster loyalty and gives employees a sense of pride. It helps them understand how their work contributes to the company's success. Set up regular meetings (some companies call them "all hands" or "town hall" meetings) to keep your employees current about new business developments and to answer any questions.
- Delegate work and responsibilities. Don’t be a one-person band; share your workload with your employees. Delegate projects according to people's strengths and weaknesses and let employees develop their own good work habits and leadership skills. Special message to control freaks: you will struggle with this initially. Before you take on a project, get in the habit of asking yourself whether one of your employees can handle it instead.
- Help employees set goals. Setting deadlines and goals helps keep employees focused and busy and motivates them to do their work. Talk to each of your people about departmental and organization-wide goals and work with them to set individual goals directly linked to those missions. Make sure each employee understands his or her professional growth path in the company.
- Recognize problems. It's impossible to know about personality conflicts, lagging productivity or other problems in the office if you've got your head in the sand. Stay tuned in to your employees so you can be proactive and resolve situations before they escalate. If you notice a change in an employee's work habits or attitude, try to get to the root of the problem before it starts affecting the rest of your staff.
- Reward employees. Everybody appreciates raises and bonuses, but monetary rewards aren't the only way to thank employees for a job well done. In fact the easiest way to recognize a worker's contribution—by simply saying "thank you"—is often the most overlooked. Whether you do it with words, money, an employee-of-the-month program or other incentives, make sure your employees know you value their efforts and contributions.
- Be a mentor. As a manager or business owner, one of the greatest gifts you can give your employees is to share your knowledge and experience. Showing people firsthand how you close a deal or forecast sales is far more effective than just talking them through it.
- Give reviews. Employees need ongoing feedback about their performance if they are to improve their skills and grow professionally. Set up a formal review program and give performance appraisals once or twice a year. If you set goals and give performance reviews in the same meeting, make sure you spend equal time addressing past performance and future goals.
- Have a heart. Family emergencies, illnesses and other unplanned events are bound to arise from time to time. Show employees some compassion by being flexible with work hours and time off so they can tend to important personal matters. Employees always appreciate a sympathetic boss, and as long as your business won't suffer, make every effort to accommodate workers who have special needs.
- Take the time to be a manager. During busy times when work's piling up, don't forget to be a manager. Employees depend on your strength and guidance—especially when they're stressed out or faced with challenging new projects that require your time and input. If an employee comes to you and needs to talk, give him or her your undivided attention. If necessary, head out to a neighborhood café and chat over a cup of coffee. You’ll be rewarded with motivated, productive, loyal employees.
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