A few months in at my last job the greatness started to wear off. I wish it could have been different. The main issue was my relationship with my boss.
He never complimented me or thanked me for my hard work. Every idea that I presented was ignored. My boss, while a good manager on his good days, was a bit of a grump on bad days. Don’t get me wrong, we got along most of the time. But our work relationship suffered. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t seem to psych myself up. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I wanted out.
Here’s the thing: everyone wants a team of employees who are dedicated to their jobs and are excited to come to work every day. The best way to achieve this, of course, is by maintaining a high level of morale in the workplace. You probably know the phrase “a happy wife makes a happy life?” Well, a happy employee makes employers more money.
The problem? This is easier said than done.
Achieving a happy office is largely dependent upon the professional health of the leadership. As even executives are human, it’s all too easy for leaders to get lost in the shuffle of everyday business needs rather than actively searching out how they can address the needs of the employees. Who can set the environment of an organization but the leader?
Leaders who want to be effective, respected and well liked should avoid some of the most common mistakes that directly impact the morale of their employees:
Mistake #1: Trying Too Hard to Be Everywhere
Have you ever seen the portraits where the eyes of the subject seem to follow the viewer wherever they go? It’s creepy, right? Don’t be like that.
As a leader, you’re held responsible for the quality of all projects. It can be hard to trust employees to get it done how you want, especially when they’re new to the team. It’s easy to want to check-in frequently to see how things are going and give them a hand to get the project moving in the right direction. Doing so can inhibit the productivity and creativity of your team, though.
Next time you feel yourself checking in too often, remember why you handed the project off: you’re too busy to do everything yourself and you have a team of capable, knowledgeable employees.
Give employees the space and authority they need to make educated decisions, and trust them to do it. They’ll feel much more confident, and you’ll feel much more relaxed not having to be everywhere at once.
Mistake #2: Being too Proud to Admit a Mistake
The best example of how to behave is by looking at the behavior patterns set by the leadership. With that being said, however, leaders are prone to making mistakes just like everyone else. What sets a good leader apart from others is their willingness to honestly admit when they are wrong, which, according to Steve Blank at Entrepreneur, is “one more step toward a more effective and cohesive company.”
Even if it’s a small and unintentional mistake, fess up to it. Employees will appreciate the forthrightness and honesty. And, they’ll be more likely to own up to their own mistakes in the future.
Mistake #3: Being Too Busy to Listen to Your Employees
Your phone is ringing off the hook, your inbox is full, and you have a report due to a client in a few hours. It’s easy to neglect your own needs, let alone the needs of your employees.
Be sure to make time to listen to your employees. Foster an environment that welcomes and embraces ingenuity and innovation, and is considerate of your employees’ concerns. After all, giving employees the opportunity to come up with new and better ways of performing their tasks can save the company time, resources and money.
Mistake #4: Thinking You Know What Someone Wants Without Asking Them.
No one wants to be a puppet or the scapegoat of why a project didn’t get completed.
Encourage employees to speak up for themselves so that everyone can understand how the pieces of the group fit together. This ability to converse and be honest and open with one another means that problems will be addressed more quickly and respectfully, as that is the expectation being set.
Mistake #5: Not Taking the Time to Say Thank You When You are Busy
Everyone wants to feel appreciated and needed. Forgetting to acknowledge the accomplishments of workers can make them feel just the opposite, and chances are, it won’t be long until they go work for someone else who will see – and acknowledge – their value.
Lindsey Lavine, from Fast Company, wrote an excellent article on the power of showing appreciation. Her article discusses the psychological impact gratitude has on getting people to help out, which is incredibly beneficial when trying to motivate employees to work hard.
Mistake #6: Not Emphasizing that Your Employees Ideas Are Important
Leaders who are doing their job well know that every skillset is important. Whether or not the job requires a lot of education or experience doesn’t matter.
Making employees feel as though their opinion matters and they aren’t being lorded over does, so try not to pull rank and make them feel stupid. Instead, appreciate any comments or feedback they offer.
Mistake #7: Not Giving Off the Proper Signals that You are Approachable
Think for a second about the waiting area of the doctor’s office. It’s full of potential issues and problems waiting to be solved by the doctor. The problem is that the doctor is incredibly busy with a long list of patients who arrived earlier. This means a long wait that seems like an eternity.
Often times, leaders also let their employees sit in the waiting room. Their employees’ questions go unanswered and no one gets a proper diagnosis or treatment.
Become more accessible with open communication lines and an open-door policy with specific visiting hours. Be sure to also show that you’re approachable by being transparent and starting the conversation.
Mistake #8: Losing Track of What You Promised To Do
Everyone struggles with this, but follow-through is incredibly important in establishing and maintaining respect with employees. If leadership decides that raises will happen in the spring but doesn’t actually deliver on that promise when the time comes, how is that going to make the employees feel? Like maybe they weren’t worth the money or their boss wasn’t totally honest?
Follow through. Be accountable. Say it and then deliver on it.
Mistake #9: Coasting at Work for Long Periods of Time
Time is always moving, trends are always changing and there are always new developments. Leaders should strive to keep up as best as possible.
There is nothing wrong with taking breaks throughout the day and vacations to recharge. In fact it’s a healthy aspect of work, but coasting for long periods of time is detrimental to you and your staff.
This means taking classes, attending trainings, pushing to be better at the jobs they’re performing. This continual education and professional development shows employees that even leaders need to change or improve habits. After all, that’s what this article is for, right?
Mistake #10: Remaining Rigid and Unforgiving
Let’s face it: Life happens. Traffic gets heavy, commutes are long and sometimes, people just oversleep. There are a million reasons why an employee may be late or why they may need to take a longer lunch or use up their sick time on a Monday morning.
Give employees the flexibility they need to stay sane in both their personal lives and at work. Be compassionate to their needs but expect the work to get done in a timely fashion.
Being a leader comes with lots of opportunities for making these common blunders. However, leaders who make their employees’ happiness a priority are more likely to retain staff and foster a work environment that is friendly and powerful. That sounds like a great leader to work for, doesn’t it?
Now it’s your turn to share a story. What is one small example that you remember from a great boss that you would like to share with us? (Just let us know in the comment section.)